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Dealing With Difficult Tenants

When managing residential properties one bad tenant can often undo the good work that one hundred excellent ones may have achieved. A bad tenant is a bad tenant regardless of whether they are in the West Riding, Western Australia, Westchester, Wanganui or the Western Isles.

And those bad tenants come in six fishy flavours, and any professional letting agent will soon recognise them. They are:

The Piranha. The rowdy snapper who upsets the neighbours
The disappearing Dogfish who ups and does a runner
The Sprat, who can't or won't pay the rent
The destroyer Shark who damages or wrecks the place
The moaning Marlin who will find fault with everything
And lastly good old Barnacle Bill, who downs anchors and refuses to move

Any letting agent who tells you they have never housed a bad tenant has their pants on fire. All letting agents experience bad tenants from time to time, the test of their expertise is in how they deal with them. Amateur and new letting agents can often be bamboozled by dealing with the six difficult fishes. Worse than that, they can often overstep the mark in trying to solve the problem.

Occasionally landlords and property owners will try and bully the letting agent into taking inappropriate or even illegal action in an effort to bring the matter to a successful conclusion. Agents should always resist this. Flirting with and overstepping the legal line when dealing with bad tenants is fraught with danger, as it will be the Agent and not the landlord, who will always be held to account.

Property Agents run the risk of changing from operating within the law, with the full weight of the law behind them, to being outside the law, and at real risk of prosecution themselves. It's a risk never worth taking.

There are ways and means of dealing with all the six fishes, legal ways and means, and anyone letting residential property should always bear that in mind. Stay within the law, and you will experience far less sleepless nights.

Copyright David Carter 2005. Reproduced with permission.

David Carter was for more than ten years the manager of a property letting agency where he presided over thousands of successful property lets, sales, and refurbishment projects. His new book, SPLAM! Successful Property Letting And Management runs to over 240 pages and can be bought from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ordered through your usual bookstore. The ISBN is 1-4116-3444-6. You can read extracts from the book, or buy a downloaded copy, at You can contact David on any matter at

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