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Many things can go wrong when owning a rental property, especially when it comes to a disruptive tenant. Our guest today is Dan Hines, Regional Director with Mynd Property Management in Sacramento. Dan is here to discuss how to best deal with a disruptive tenant quickly before things before more complicated than they have to be.

Steve Rozenberg: Hey everyone, my name is Steve Rozenberg with Mynd Property Management and I’m joined here today with Dan Hines who is the Regional Director for Sacramento Mynd Property Management. Dan, thanks for joining me today. I appreciate it.

Dan Hines: Yeah, definitely. Thanks for having me on, Steve.

Steve Rozenberg: So what I’d like to talk about today is the ever-elusive challenge of dealing with a disruptive tenant, right? I mean that is kind of the biggest fear of, does a disruptive tenant turn into an eviction, right? Which is a big fear for people, but I just want to talk about dealing in handling the disruptive tenant because I have seen some very ugly things happen when people do not handle it correctly when they have a disruptive tenant.

So obviously we know that you’re supposed to be running it like a business. This is a customer service industry, but if you’re a landlord you can get emotional, you can get kind of caught up in the heat of battle. The first thing I would just like to say out of the gate is do not text message your tenant, especially in the heat of battle when you are upset at them because I just imagine you standing in front of a judge and the judge reading this text message thread of you guys going at it. And taken out of context, it can seem like you probably may have gone overboard and you’re not being professional. So I always say don’t do that.

Dan Hines: That’s just good life advice.

Steve Rozenberg: You’re absolutely right. In general, don’t do that. Yes, very true. Very true. So that’s just my two cents. And so Dan, you’re in Sacramento, give us your advice, you’re the expert. Tell us what, what is your advice on how to deal with that?

Dan Hines: Set super clear expectations from the very beginning. Hopefully, that will prevent a lot of pain and a lot of problems. We touched on this on another video, but the best offense is a strong defense, meaning screen people really, really tightly. Prevent the problems from showing up in the first place. But if you find yourself in a situation where maybe you didn’t place them, if things started great and then it got really rough along the way. How do you deal with that stuff in the thick of it, right? I totally agree with you. Don’t yell, don’t scream.

Unfortunately a lot of property owners, it’s common to see some sort of an emotional connection and attachment to the property, but I always try to work in my clients and remind them that rental property needs to be thought of almost an inventory to your business, right? It’s not an emotional thing. So try to separate that. Know what your playbook looks like and stick to it. If someone is breaking a certain set of rules, know what your recourse is. At what point is it acceptable to just ask them, “Hey, please knock this off. Remember your lease says this.” At what point do you have to start deploying notices of breach?

And something that you need to stay aware of when you’re running any sort of business and hiring people. You need to be slow to hire and quick to fire. And basically what that means, and you can play with these words, it means that when there’s a problem that you know is not going to work itself out, don’t lie to yourself, deal with the problem. All too often I see landlords be very patient and very hopeful and they wait for things to get better. And you know what? Sometimes they do and sometimes that happens, but oftentimes if it gets worse, it’s going to cost them a lot more money. It’s going to take longer and there’s going to be way more pain involved.

Steve Rozenberg: And I think, a lot of the things that I’ve seen and learned and experienced over the years is that number one, it’s a business, it’s not emotions. And a lot of times, landlords, when they first rent to someone, maybe they’re nice to them or they’re friendly and then maybe they feel like they were taken advantage of. And now it’s an emotional situation. And I’ve heard some landlords tell me, “well it’s my house.” And I say, “Well it may be your house, but it’s their home.” And that home is a business and you are running a business now. When you turn it into a business, there are now laws that both you have to abide by, as well as the tenant. And normally those laws are spelled out in the lease agreement. So go back to the lease agreement and make sure that everyone is abiding by the lease.

If they’re not, then like you said, then you use your education to decide how you’re going to take action or not or how you’re going to rectify the situation. But getting emotional, I don’t know anyone that’s ever gotten emotional and it’s worked out for the better. It just doesn’t happen because you’ve got someone living in that property, they have rights and just because you may not agree with how they’re living, it may not be illegal. They may not be in breach of the lease. That’s not for you to decide, the lease agreement decides it because it’s a bilateral contract that you both signed. And again, it is a sensitive subject. And when you have a disruptive tenant, especially if you have a duplex or a shared or an apartment complex, because there’s obviously—I always say when we had a duplex—there are three sides to the story. There’s one side, the other side, and then the real side. And so everyone’s up for interpretation of how they interpreted something.

And again, it’s not my job to be judge and juror of someone. I can only go off of what the lease says. I’m not there 24/7. And so again, I like what you said. It’s like you make decisions based on the information that’s in front of you and what’s prudent to move forward on and what’s not. But to me, the biggest challenge is getting emotional. That’s where it gets you. Again, if I can give you advice, number one, do not text them. I remember seeing a landlord, he got into a fist fight with the tenant in the front yard of his property and then the landlord ended up getting a restraining order put on against him because he could not even go back to his own rental property and he was in the wrong.

And then I’m thinking to myself, what are you doing? Don’t you remember this was an investment property that you were going to have for retirement purposes and that stuff. What are you doing getting into a fist fight? And in the heat of battle, I understand, but that never is going to solve something. You’re never going to work it out.

Dan Hines: I’ll echo what you’re saying. If you operate from a place of being professional and respectful and hopefully not, not being Mr. Nice Guy to where someone can take advantage of you but still being kind, you should never end up in a fist fight in any sort of business.

Steve Rozenberg: I don’t care what, absolutely.

Dan Hines: That doesn’t happen. And from managing, north of 1200 rental units for a handful of years, I can tell you from firsthand knowledge that when you’re working with someone like a disruptive resident, if they can tell that you’re being respectful and you’re not trying to be abusive in your language and actually dealing with them as a human being—and I understand where we’re varying off a little bit of the original subject of your video—you have a much higher rate of success.

Steve Rozenberg: Absolutely.

Dan Hines: Solving problems and not just trying to pull some sort of a power trip. So don’t get emotional, always assume that there’s someone watching how you’re behaving.

Steve Rozenberg: Absolutely.

Dan Hines: And if there’s no one watching right then, know that the residents probably going to tell their stories.

Steve Rozenberg: Absolutely. A human being and be professional. And again that’s, I tell people that’s the sandbox we’re playing in. We’re playing in that where we are renting a property to a person. You’re being told they’re disruptive. You don’t know that maybe, again, there’s multiple sides to the story and a lot of times it’s emotion on the tenant side and emotion on the landlord side. And again, be professional. And like you said, if someone’s not watching, they probably will be watching you on YouTube on how you acted because someone will be recording you. So it just doesn’t… there’s no point in doing that. And so again, like you said, be professional. That’s the best thing I can say.

Dan Hines: Yeah. That said though, if you’re dealing with a real problem, right? Real lease breaches, someone that’s going to destroy the property, someone that is, the metaphorical cancer to the property if you have multiple residents.

Steve Rozenberg: Sure.

Dan Hines: Don’t be passive. Don’t wait for it to work itself out.

Steve Rozenberg: Absolutely.

Dan Hines: Know what you’re line is, stand firmly by it. It’s better to solve those problems quicker than to wait for them to compound.

Steve Rozenberg: Take action, but do it legally. Go through the court system. If you have to remove them, don’t just pull them out. Yeah. I mean there’s absolutely, yeah. I mean it’s your business, you’re running the business, run it, run it correctly, but don’t just take matters into our own hands because you’ve got emotional and you’ve got upset and you’re going to write the score right there. You do it correctly where you get courts involved, you remove them legally. Again, that’s the way to do it. So Dan, I love this information. You’ve got so much knowledge. And again, so many people could learn from what you have to say. If somebody wants to get ahold of you up in Sacramento and talk to you at Mynd, how do they do that?

Dan Hines: Yeah, go to our website. It’s Mynd.co. So, M-Y-N-D.C-O. We have a page there specifically for property owners. Lots of information on both the Sacramento market, where I am, plus and other markets. It’s easy to contact us through the website. You can also reach out by phone. That information is also listed on the website and then social media as well.

Steve Rozenberg: And if you want to find us on social media, we’re on Facebook and Instagram. On Facebook, we actually have a Facebook group. It’s called the Mastermynd Real Estate Investment club. And you should join it because there’s a lot of people just like Dan and I on there talking, conversing, having discussions about real estate and how we can help you. And again, this is just a community that we want to help people get better at what they do and who they are. So this is Dan and Steve. I want to thank everyone. Talk to you later. Buh-bye.

Dan Hines: Thank you.

Dealing with a disruptive tenant can prove to be one of the most difficult aspects of owning a rental property. But knowing one’s rights when dealing with such issues can save a property owner time and money. Likewise, remaining professional and not letting emotions get the better of you can help ease tensions and settle the problem in your favor. Treating a property as a business or investment is the first step in quickly and painlessly dealing with a disruptive tenant before the situation becomes much worse.