Dealing with a bad tenant?

Be honest: there’s nothing you rather deal with less than a difficult tenant.

They sap your energy, cause you undue stress, and are not to mention costly. 

Whether you’re:

  • Dealing with a bad tenant and looking for ways to handle them, or
  • You want to guard yourself from difficult tenants in the future by knowing how to prepare yourself in a way that reduces that potential headache

… this guide will help. 

Alright, let’s handle those bad tenants. 

5 Most common types of bad tenants

Below, we’re listed some of the most common “types” of bad tenants as well as potential steps you can take to handle them. 

The goal is to offer a potential solution to each type of common bad tenant “archetype” so you’re prepared well in advance if you ever do have a tenant that fits the description:

Common types of bad tenants

1. Tenant who doesn’t pay rent/pays rent late

Arguably the worst kind of offender depending on how you look at it. 

While there are a number of reasons why a tenant may pay late, we’re talking specifically here about a difficult tenant that either always pays late or has stopped paying.

Now, you’re forced to reach out, nag them, and potentially even start the eviction process.

How to handle them:

There isn’t much you can do about a tenant who is already late or not paying, but there is much you can do to avoid that from happening again:

  • Implement a thorough screening process that includes a credit check, to get an idea of their financial responsibility before accepting them. 
  • Make sure the applicant’s income is high enough: Generally x3 what their monthly rent will be, though that number is flexible. 
  • Also: Use DoorLoop’s automatic rent payment feature. The easier you make it to pay rent (especially automatic payments) the better.

2. Tenant who sues you

The most delightful of the “sudden surprise” type of bad tenant, being sued by your tenant can be:

  • Time-consuming
  • Costly
  • And headache-inducing 

There are a number of different types of lawsuits that a tenant can drop on you here from claiming you damaged their personal property due to some property issue to unequal treatment. 

How to handle them:

Landlord-tenant laws are the key here, so either:

  • Familiarizing yourself with these, or
  • Hiring someone else to handle them and/or consult with is essential

 Every state and county is a bit different, so having an expert on your side can be a huge help in making sure you stay compliant.

Also, going back to the screening process, make sure each applicant submits a background check during their screening process. 

3. Tenant that damages your property

Property damage can be quite costly, especially if that damage came from a tenant that lived in one of your properties for a full year or longer. 

However, this is a pretty easy one to manage, so long as you’re taking the right steps in advance.

How to handle them:

  • Inspect the unit pre-move-in and post move-in and document the condition of the unit with the tenant
  • Handle big yearly or quarterly inspections 
  • Make sure you have insurance

Insurance can help cover some of the cost of repairing your property depending on the type of damage, and it doesn’t cost much.

So, there’s no reason not to get it. 

4. Tenant that is generally difficult and doesn’t follow property/community rules

This is a more general category, but it’s any kind of tenant who is typically disruptive or causes their neighbors to complain and/or who consistently doesn’t follow the rules. 

This could be: 

  • Where they’re allowed and not allowed to park
  • The use of certain facilities
  • Noise levels
  • etc.

How to handle them:

Whether you’re currently dealing with a difficult tenant like this or not, the action and prevention step are roughly the same.

It all depends on why this is happening.

Do you have a rule in place against what they’re doing?

Then you need to enforce those rules better.

Don’t have a rule in place and realize now that it’s a problem?

Update your lease agreement to include the item and send an updated version to all of your tenants mentioning that these new lease items will be enforced immediately. 

It’s here yet again that a comprehensive screening process goes a long way. 

The better you screen your tenants, the less likely you’ll be to encounter these issues moving forward.

5. Tenant that squats

I know, squatting is one of the last things you want to deal with.

Not only is that tenant giving you a headache, they’re also affecting your cash flow.

However, if that’s the boat you’re in, there are steps you can take to fix the issue.

Not only to get that tenant out and a new one in, but to keep this from happening again. 

How to handle them:

This to watch for when selecting applicants:

  • Review credit and eviction history to ensure the applicant has never been evicted elsewhere
  • Pay close attention to residence history. Notice anything out of the ordinary? Make sure to ask questions while you still can. 

Also, with the applicant’s residence history you can contact their previous landlords to find out more about their payment history and behavior, which all goes towards helping avoid this.

When should you use eviction to deal with bad tenants?

Evicting a tenant should be a last resort, but it’s a step you shouldn’t hesitate to take depending on the situation. 

Just make sure before you evict, you review these points first:

  • Attempt to communicate with the tenant and come to a peaceful agreement
  • Study your state and local eviction laws (consider contacting a landlord-tenant lawyer)
  • Confirm that you have valid reason for eviction and understand the laws regarding it in your area
  • Then, deliver your eviction notice

Say good riddance to bad tenants 

A bad tenant isn’t just a hit to your rental income in many cases, it’s also a major headache. 

It can even impact the happiness of your other tenants depending on the issue.

Getting rid of your bad tenant should be a priority, just keep in mind that they’re still a tenant and should be treated fairly under your local state and federal landlord-tenant laws. 

Want a more reliable way of finding better tenants from the beginning?

DoorLoop’s comprehensive tenant screening tools allow you to find better, more high-quality tenants now so you have fewer issues later. 


  • A detailed background check
  • Credit check
  • Eviction history
  • And bankruptcy report

Check out DoorLoop’s tenant screening tools today. 

Frequently Asked Quesitons

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!

Legal Disclaimer

The information on this website is from public sources, for informational purposes only and not intended for legal or accounting advice. DoorLoop does not guarantee its accuracy and is not liable for any damages or inaccuracies.