Hey, Spencer Sutton here with gkhouses. And today I wanna talk to you about seven (7) signs that you have a problem tenant.

We’ve been doing this a long time, we have managed thousands of tenants, and we are experts at sniffing out when you have a problem tenant.

So, hopefully, some of these, you’ll be able to take them, and if you do have a problem tenant, you’ll be able to deal with that correctly.

But hopefully, our hope is that you don’t run into any of this issue.

Sign number One Out Of 7 Signs You Have A Problem Tenant


So, number one way that you can tell you have a problem tenant, number one sign is that they start complaining as soon as they sign the lease.

This actually happened to me very recently. We had a house for rent, we rented it, immediately the tenant started calling with all kind of, you know, they wanted this done, they wanted that done, they wanted this done.

Well, unfortunately, they had seen the house, they looked at the house, which we make sure everybody sees the house and is totally fine with it before they sign the lease.

But I can already tell you this is gonna become a problem. So, especially when the tenant says, “Hey, I’m paying this much, I should get X, Y, Z.”

This is probably the first sign that you have a problem tenant, somebody who begins complaining and starts demanding right away.

So, that’s a problem, that’s problem number one.

Sign number two Out Of 7 Signs You Have A Problem Tenant

Sign number two that you have a problem tenant is that they start falling behind on their rent and they stay behind.

This may happen very slowly, but over time, they start paying on the 5th, and then on the 10th, the 15th, the 20th, and they get into this pattern of always staying behind.

This is going to be an issue, especially if you have a mortgage or you have a loan that you’re trying to pay and you’re trying to collect rent and pay that off, as the tenant falls behind, that’s not a good sign.

So, that is definitely a sign that you have a problem tenant. You need to address that very quickly.

In your lease, you should have a late fee associated with anything that’s past your due date, past your grace period and you should enforce that. So, as soon as you start being lenient on that and saying,

“Hey, I’ll forgive this late fee, you start listening to story, after story, after story, then you are gonna run into a lot of problems.

So, I’ve met many, many owners that say, “Hey, I’ve got a tenant that pay every month, they just don’t pay on time every month.”

And, that becomes a problem for an owner, definitely a problem for a property management company like us as we try to collect rent every single month and we’re trying to do that across thousands of tenants.

So, that’s the second sign that you have a problem tenant.

Sign number three Out Of 7 Signs You Have A Problem Tenant

The third sign that you have a problem tenant is if you have specified in your lease that you’ll not allow pets, and you begin to find out that they’re keeping pets against the lease.

This is a problem. Now, we do our best to ensure that tenants know, prospective tenants, this house is no pets allowed, it’s not in the lease.

If we find a pet, we will fine them, so there’s a penalty that we pay, then they have to pay the pet fee, so it’s a big issue.

People love their pets and you don’t ever know that they could have moved into the house month one without a pet and then four months later for Christmas, they got a dog or something like that.

But when you find that your tenant is keeping pets against the lease, that’s a sign that they’re not probably going to live up to other parts of the lease this has happened to me personally.

I remember going to check on a tenant that I had in one of my houses and I went out there and I was actually going to collect rent, this is back, like, one of my very first rental houses.

And, I was going to collect rent, I knocked on the door and I just heard barking from inside my house.

Now, I had just had the hardwood floors refinished, I had just had the entire house painted, it was in perfect condition.

And around the corner came about five or six little small dogs. So, after the tenant moved out, and that’s a whole different story, I went in to find the floors torn up, they used the bathroom everywhere, so not a pleasant experience.

And, if you’re somebody who does not want pets, and we have a lot of houses where they allow pets and that’s perfectly fine.

But if you don’t, a sign that you have a problem tenant is you find that they’ve kept pets there against the lease.

Sign number four Out Of 7 Signs You Have A Problem Tenant

The fourth sign that you have a problem tenant is going to be, and we see this from time to time, that they pay with a check, they pay online, something to that effect and the checks gets returned for non-sufficient funds.

That’s a problem, gonna be a problem for you because you deposit that, you’re thinking, “Hey, we’ve got this money.”

And now you’ve got to increase your communication, you’ve got to go collect rent, you become a bill collector essentially, and so it adds more stress, you know, more conflict in this relationship.

That’s definitely a sign when you start having some checks returned, non-sufficient funds, that’s gonna be a problem for you.

Sign number five Out Of 7 Signs You Have A Problem Tenant

The fifth sign that you have a problem tenant is, and you can do this simply by driving by your house and checking on it, is if you see the house outside is in disrepair.

If you’ve got high grass, you’ve got weeds, you’ve got trash outside and you can just tell they’re not taking care of the outside of the house, that is an indicator that the inside is probably going to be worse.

We have it in our lease that all tenants are to take care of the lawn, and so an indication that you’ve got a problem tenant assigned is that you drop by the house and you’ve got high grass, high weed, trash outside.

It just generally does not look like they’re taking care of the property.  There’s no pride of ownership there.

Now, this becomes especially a problem when you have a tenant who lives, or your house is governed by an HOA.

So, they’re going to reach out. They’re gonna send a letter to you and say… As a matter of fact, we just had this happen the other day.

An owner emailed me and said, “Hey, I got this letter.” And it was a little garden home community, the tenant had not cut the grass.

We had to get in touch with him. One thing that we do if owners ask us to, is we do quarterly inspections, and this is a great way to get inside the house, we always change air filters, we check batteries and smoke detectors.

Both of those are very good because we know tenants do not change air filters, but it also allows us to get inside the house, we take pictures around and we can send the owner a report saying, “Hey, here’s how the tenant took care of your house.”

So quarterly inspections are a good thing and will help you keep tabs, but once you start noticing the outside of the house deteriorate, you better believe that inside it may be worse.

Sign number six Out Of 7 Signs You Have A Problem Tenant

Now, that brings me to the sixth sign that you have a problem tenant and that’s that they ignore HOA rules.

This is a big issue in Nashville and in Denver, some of our markets where there are a lot of HOAs.

So, some of our other markets you don’t have as many HOAs but definitely, in those two cities that we’re in currently, there are a lot of HOA rules.

If your tenant just bucks the system, refuses to obey the HOA rules, that’s a sign that you have a problem tenant.

Sign number seven Out Of 7 Signs You Have A Problem Tenant

And lastly, the seventh sign that you have a problem tenant is that they just stop paying rent.

Now, that’s a very obvious one, and this may even come in succession, but you start having a slow paying tenant and that could turn into a no paying tenant.

And when that happens, then you’re gonna have to make the decision, do I need to evict this tenant?

You know, is there a reason why they’re not paying their rent anymore?

Increase communication, increase potential for conflict, but these things must be handled.

So, those are the seven signs that you have a problem tenant, and again, our hope is that you don’t have a problem tenant.

The key on the front end is to make sure your underwriting process, your screening process is buttoned up and that you know exactly what you’re doing, what you’re looking for because if you do that right and you do that properly, then chances are you’ll have a great experience with your tenant.

However, we don’t know, you never know what kind of life circumstances happen to people.

So there’s things that you can’t control, you can’t see these things in the underwriting process.

You cannot see the loss of a job, you can’t see a personal crisis those types of things, so just be aware of that.

Owning rental property is always gonna be a risk when you’re expecting somebody else to pay you for living in your house.

I mean, that’s a normal expectation, but things happen, so there’s always gonna be a risk.

However, if you start seeing these signs then you know you’re gonna have to step up your game, you’re gonna have to be extremely disappointed with how you deal with this tenant, document everything because it may lead to an eviction down the road. I hope not.

So, that’s all I got for you today. If you have any questions, email me, ssutton@gkhouses.com, I’ll be happy to help you out.