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Dealing with a disruptive tenant can be one of the most difficult aspects of owning a rental property. Today we are speaking with Enrique Jevons, a Regional Director with Mynd Property Management. Enrique is here to discuss the best ways to deal with a disruptive tenant and minimize confrontation when owning a rental property.
Steve Rozenberg: Hey, everyone. This is Steve Rozenberg with Mynd Property Management and I am joined here with my good friend, Enrique Jevons, who is the Regional Director of Mynd Property Management for the Pacific Northwest division. Enrique, thank you so much for joining me today.
Enrique Jevons: Yeah, thank you. Good to see you again Steve.
Steve Rozenberg: Yeah, you too. So what I want to talk about today, you and I are both investors, we’ve dealt with all kinds of residents and challenges. When you have a disruptive resident, how is the best way, if I’m an investor and I’m new to this—you and I both have heard some horror stories of altercations and stuff going on—what is the best way to handle a disruptive tenant?
Enrique Jevons: Yeah. So, unfortunately, it does happen. And so the thing is that, just by human nature, people are not very confrontational. You know, nobody really likes confrontation, right? And so, unfortunately, what happens a lot of times with landlords is that the resident is behaving badly—and its especially worse if you’ve got a multifamily property and you’ve got one tenant that’s behaving really badly there—what ends up happening is that landlords are just reluctant to get involved. They think, “well c’est la vie. Let them do whatever they want. They’re paying their rent on time. So what do I care if they’re obnoxious, making a huge ruckus or that the cops are coming over all the time,” type of thing? The reality is that things only go downhill. So as soon as somebody is behaving badly, you’ve got to nip it in the bud. You have got to enforce your lease. And that’s why property management companies are very good in that respect.
Steve Rozenberg: Why we exist.
Enrique Jevons: It is a business. It’s a business. Yeah. And so if you’ve got a property that your self-managing, the one thing you really want to do is treat it as a business. Try not to become emotional about the situation. Nip it in the bud. Get on it right away. Don’t let it fester because if you let it fester then, also what happens is, then when you finally do approach the tenant, you start charging at them, coming at them…
Steve Rozenberg: Now it’s an emotional situation.
Enrique Jevons: …and say “what the hell is going on here.” Yeah. And, of course, the tenant is going to immediately be defensive and say, “to hell with you.” So you got to make sure that you treat it as business. Make sure that you look for, in your lease the allow of laws for, for example, in the state of Washington, you can serve a 10-day notice to comply which you always should (do) anytime an individual is not complying with the lease or not complying with state law or not complying with the HOA or city ordinances, whatever the restrictions are, make sure that you document it and that you then serve notice whatever applicable notices for the location where your property is. You need that documentation because, of course, if it does rise to be a bigger problem, the court is going to ask for documentation, right?
So, they want to see in writing. They don’t want to hear you just rambling off about this or that. They just want to see what the facts are. And generally, they want to see what the facts are on paper. They want evidence. You have to have that documentation, that evidence, which again means you have got to treat it like a business.
So that’s where it’s very important to either commit to doing that or you get somebody else who can do that for you. One of the other nice things about management companies—that’s just an added layer of protection, legally. You can let your property manager know, “hey, you know what? My neighbor called me. He said that tenants in my property are acting up. Can you go out there and take care of it?” And that way the property manager can go be the face, go take care of it in a very non-emotional professional manner.
Steve Rozenberg: One of the things I’ve told many, many landlords that get emotional is the last thing you should ever ever do is text message your tenant in the heat of battle of a discussion. Because I’ve never met a landlord standing in front of a judge that says, “that is what I meant at that moment when I was upset to say that to the tenant.” Because again, you got to think about this, who is going to be reading this text message if you go to court? What did you say? Because that’s when it’s going to come back to you.
Enrique Jevons: Yep. Texts are definitely admissible. It is possible to screenshot them, to print them. So don’t think just because you’ve deleted it that it’s…
Steven Rozenberg: On your side, yeah.
Enrique Jevons: …that yeah the other side can still have a copy of that. So make sure that anything you put in writing, whether it’s texting and emailing, a letter in the mail, a handwritten note that you go and give them or post on their door, all of that is admissible evidence. So you always want to make sure that everything you do is in a non-emotional way and it’s always enforcing the lease. Do it consistently and you never have a problem. It’s when you leave there to let you know a problem fester, especially multi-family unit because all of your surrounding good tenants then are going to move out. They’re not going to put up with it and you’re left with bad tenants only, right? So you don’t want that to happen, either. Then you also don’t want to have an issue where you’re not enforcing, not enforcing, not enforcing and then it’s the final straw and you decide, I just can’t take it anymore. And so you go out there and you tell them you’re out of here. And they say, “what the heck are you talking about, we’ve always done this.”
Steve Rozenberg: You set a precedent allowing that to happen. Yeah, so I think the moral of this, and this is great. This is a whole podcast show, really. But the moral of this is that you’re running a business. It’s not emotional. You have to go by the lease agreement. And I always tell landlords, “if you put it in the lease, you better enforce it.” Don’t put it in the least that you have all this strict verbiage, and then you don’t enforce it. Because it’s a contract. If they don’t comply, you have to comply. That’s a contract. So I think it’s great—some of the things you said. You’ve been in this business a while. I’ve been in a while. There are just so many things to learn that emotions never solve the problem.
Think about it. You’re running a business. It’s not emotional. They’re not doing something vindictive to you. If they’re disruptive, run it by the letter of the law, which is your lease agreement. And know that If you don’t like dealing with that, that’s when you call someone like Enrique. You have him take over the property. You do something like that or you just talk to them and say, “what’s the best situation?”
So, Enrique, if somebody did want to talk to you about the best case scenario and talk to you about disruptive tenants, how do they do that?
Enrique Jevons: Yeah, definitely send me an email. I’m happy to answer any questions, give any advice, that sort of thing. Chances are I’ve been through it before so send me an email at email@example.com. So, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Rozenberg: And if you want to join our Facebook group, we have a Mynd Facebook group. It’s called the Mastermynd Real Estate Investment Club. And Mynd is spelled M-Y-N-D. There’s investors in there. Enrique and myself are both in there along with a lot of other very serious investors, where you can talk, engage, converse and again just have conversations with people like us. If you were to go to our website, go to mynd.co. M-Y-N-D.C-O. This is Steve Rozenberg and Enrique Jevons. I want to thank everyone for watching today and we’ll talk to you later. Bye-bye.
Enrique Jevons: Thanks. Bye everybody.
Minimizing confrontation is key when dealing with a disruptive tenant. As owning a rental property is ultimately a business, the best and easiest way to do so is by avoiding emotion. Remember that your lease agreement is a contract and that, while it is incumbent upon the tenant to follow the rules, it is equally incumbent upon the property owner or manager to enforce them.
Likewise, some property owners may find it beneficial or more expedient to hire a property manager to deal with such disruptions. The added benefit of doing so is that a property management company can be an added layer of legal protection when tenant disputes arise.
Ultimately, property owners and managers must deal with disruptive behavior as it occurs and avoid letting it fester. Remaining clear and consistently enforcing rules and regulations will make the tenant-landlord relationship easier and more constructive, overall.