The rental market in Nigeria is at an all-time high – instead of saving money to buy a new apartment for decades, or taking a mortgage, more and more young Nigerians prefer to rent property. This trend can benefit both the tenants, who receive an opportunity to get a nice place to live for a reasonable monthly payment, and homeowners, who get to make money with their property. However, conflicts between tenants and landlords are nearly inevitable, and today you’ll learn how to deal with a problem tenant as a landlord.
The most common problems
It may take a while for issues with your tenant to become noticeable. At first you may think that the problems are nothing but your imagination, but soon you start receiving complaints from neighbours or notice signs that there really is an issue. The most widespread tenant problem is late rent – it’s understandable when it happens once or twice, but if you have to beg for rent every month, it means that something is not right. Other common issues include loud and unreasonable behaviour, suspicious visitors, conflicts with neighbours, and foul smells coming out of the apartment.
Study the law
The relationship between the tenant and the landlord is regulated by numerous laws and policies, and the policies can differ from one area to another. Whenever you’re getting ready to deal with a problem tenant, first study your rights and responsibilities. Find out what you can do in each particular situation, whether you can evict the tenant before the rent contract is over, and whether a fine can be imposed on you as a landlord for terminating the contract. It’s best to have a copy of regional policies at hand, and supply your tenants with a copy as well, preferably before they sign the agreement.
In order for you to have enough arguments and evidence for talking to the tenant, you need to have a case, which consists of every instance of the tenant violating the rental policies, as well as your actions in dealing with the issues. Every time you get a complaint from the neighbours or spot suspicious behaviour yourself, write it down, and include the date and time. Whenever you try to have a reasonable talk with a tenant, leave a note, or issue a warning, document those instances as well – eventually it will be easier for you to prove your point.
Keep it fair and safe
Although you can be an understanding and loyal landlord, your safety, as well as the safety of other tenants, should come first. It means that you can’t let the conflict lead to a physical confrontation that can involve other people or do major damage to your health. If you feel like the conflict is about to go out of control, don’t hesitate to contact the police. And while the tenants can have different life stories that can explain their behaviour or late rent, you shouldn’t be compromising your rental policies for each particular case – you need to remain fair and unbiased to every tenant.
Come back in a week, where we’ll cover the most common tenant issues in detail and stress-free ways of dealing with them.