A blue nametag sticker with words Hello I Am Your Worst Nightmare that might be worn by a dissatisfied, angry customer or someone complaining or being cranky

7 Signs You Have a Nightmare Tenant

Do you have a nightmare tenant living in your rental house?

When most people decide to rent their house, they have the best intentions.

That’s because we want to believe the best about people. We want to believe that the person we choose to live in our house will treat it like their own.

The truth is that some do…and some don’t. And most homeowners don’t really know the kind of tenant they have until the person moves in and has been there a few months.

The key is to have an extremely disciplined underwriting process for screening your tenant.

But you may already have a tenant. A tenant you placed yourself…or a tenant that a local property manager placed on your behalf.

Either way, you need to know what to look for so that you can determine if you have rented your house to a great tenant…or a tenant who is going to invade your nightmares and cause you to wake up in a cold sweat!

It may not start out as a nightmare, but if you notice these signs…beware…it could turn into a nightmare!

Here are the 7 signs you have a nightmare tenant:

  1. You never receive maintenance requests – Most of you are probably thinking, “I hope I never get a maintenance call from my tenants!” However, we want to suggest that if you don’t hear from your tenant, it could possibly mean that they’re hiding something. What could that be? It’s hard to say…it could anything from a messy house to negligent damage. You never want something like a small water leak continue until it’s a much bigger job than what it should have been. We give our owners the option to sign up for quarterly property inspections. We enter the home, take pictures, and send a report back to the owner. If our inspection turns up anything that we believe an owner should be concerned about, we let them know.
  2. You receive notice from the City to cut the grass or clean up the yard – I know it’s hard toHorizontal shot of dirty lawnmower in overgrown grassbelieve…but not everyone has the same cleanliness and sanitation practices as you. And if your tenant happens to be one of those people who is not too keen on cutting grass or taking out the garbage, you could have a problem. If this is the case, you might receive a nice notice from the City concerning your property. When you receive one of these notices, it’s not good news. It means that something is going on at your rental house that has caught the attention of the city! And if it’s something that caught their attention…you better believe the entire neighborhood is not happy about the condition of your property. I once received a notice from the city about trash needing to be removed from the yard. When I arrived, the entire back deck was covered in garbage sacks. This means that there were plenty of rodents, roaches, and other creepy creatures that had to be dealt with to make sure the property was sanitary again. If you get a notice from the city, you could have a bad tenant.
  3. The neighbors regularly complain about the tenant – If you lived in your house before you started to rent it out, the chances are that you know your neighbors. And if you have a good relationship with your neighbors, they will feel obligated to let you know about anything strange going on at your house. They will especially let you know if it’s something that disturbed their ‘peace and quiet’….and they should! Wouldn’t you want to know if there were always cars parked on your lawn? Or regular parties into the wee hours of the evening…or pets that are keeping them up all hours of the night. Whether you want to believe it or not, your tenants are an extension of you…especially if you were the one that placed them in the home.
  4. They are not keeping the utilities on – You may not believe whether the tenant keeps the utilities on or not is a big deal to you…but it has more to do with you than you know. A tenant that does not maintain their utilities could end up costing you thousands of dollars. If they don’t pay the power bill, the power company may possibly red tag the meter. If this happens, you will receive a visit from the electrical inspected of your local municipality before they agree to turn the power back on at your house. If they believe your home needs an electrical upgrade, that tenant’s $400 power bill just cost you thousands of dollars. If the gas has been turned off, your tenant may start using space heaters which can short outlets and may cause fire. That’s liability you don’t want in your life! One more problem, if the equipment that is supplied by these utilities are not running, they will break down like a car that sits for long periods of time. Remember, if it’s not running, its rusting…
  5. They are not paying rent and calling in bogus maintenance request – This is a classic move that a nightmare tenant loves to pull. It’s the tenant that you never hear from until they stop paying you rent. When they stop paying rent, everything in the house starts falling apart. Most of the time they are looking for reasons to blame you for their non payment of rent. Before they stopped paying rent, you didn’t hear from them…now, every crack in the wall and squeak in the floor is an issue. Pay attention to these tenants because they are more than likely going to bail out and leave your house unattended. Once their balance becomes too high for them to pay they, will abandon your home and leave it wide open in most cases…especially if you have started the eviction process.
  6. You cannot contact them and when you go by the house, someone else is always answering the door – This can be a problem in more ways than one. If you visit your rental house (on multiple occasions) and the person answering the door is not who you leased your house to, it could mean that a) they have additional people living in the home who are not on the lease or b) they are subletting your house. This may not seem like a big deal, but when they stop paying and you attempt to evict them you don’t know the names of the people that you are evicting. This can make it harder to legally remove the squatters and get your house back on the market in a timely manner.
  7. Angry man speaks on the phoneThey have a terrible attitude – Everyone has bad days…and that’s no different for tenants than it is for you and me. But when you have a tenant that blatantly behaves in a disrespectful and abusive manner, you have a nightmare tenant. These kinds of tenants are looking to blame you, the landlord, for any and everything possible.



  • You didn’t repair the broken cabinet door fast enough…
  • You didn’t answer the phone when they called after hours…
  • You charged a late fee even after they gave you their best excuse…

This list could go on to ‘z’…but I think you get the picture. If their attitude stinks, chances are your relationship will be the same.

Nightmare tenants are a dime a dozen…and great tenants are sometimes hard to find.

Do your best to avoid the nightmare tenant by doing your homework and screening your tenants the right way.

And if you think you need help, make sure to give us a call…we’re experts at finding the best tenants for your rental houses!