Whether you are a seasoned property manager or a novice landlord, having a clear understanding of tenant personality types helps you be prepared for what to expect, what to avoid, and what to do when those unavoidable scenarios pop-up.
In a perfect world, each one of your tenants will possess all the qualities of a good renter. In a realistic world, you will probably encounter some degree of each tenant personality type. In this 4 part series, you will find out the good, the bad, and the ugly types of tenant behavior when it comes to important terms of the landlord-tenant relationship like paying rent, following lease terms, maintaining the property and communicating effectively.
Tenant Types Part 1: Paying Rent
When it comes to paying rent, tenants tend to fall into 3 categories ranging from amazing to tolerable to “time for an eviction”.
Good: The Early Bird
What is better than receiving rent on time each month? Receiving it early! A good tenant understands their obligation to follow lease terms and remit rent payment on the date agreed to in the rental agreement. Most lease agreements require tenants to pay rent on the first of the month, while others may specify an alternative date that rent is due. Regardless of the specific due date, a lucky landlord will always see that rent check show up on time each month, or even a couple days early.
Some landlords offer a grace period for rent payment deadlines. A good tenant will make sure to pay their rent before the final day of the grace period, letting you collect rent earlier than expected.
Bad: The Late Payer
Some renters fail to realize the importance of paying rent on time each month. A single late payment during a lease term is understandable, but problems arise when your tenants make it a habit to always pay rent after it is due. While a rent payment that is only a day or two late does not require as much action in terms of phone calls and late notices, it can still be annoying to routinely wait for rent to show up.
It is advisable to stick to your lease agreement and always collect late fees in order to demonstrate the importance of paying rent on time. You should also keep excellent records of your tenant’s payment history to use if adverse action is required in the future.
Some property managers do not mind collecting late rent payments because they are able to profit from late fees. In some cases, however, private landlords will find themselves in an extremely stressful situation if they rely on rental income to make their mortgage payments each month.
If you notice a pattern in late payments, you might benefit from asking your tenant what is going on. It might be the case that your tenant’s payday schedule affects their ability to pay rent on the required due date. While you do not need to accommodate their payday schedule, you will have a better understanding as to the reason for their behavior and plan accordingly. In other cases, your tenants might not realize how their late payments negatively affect you, so a simple conversation could fix the problem.
Ugly: The Non-Payer
Worse than late payment is no payment at all. Whether for a legitimate reason (like losing a job) or a meaningless reason (like the tenant doesn’t feel like it), not paying rent constitutes an extreme lease violation.
Failure to pay rent is the top reason most tenants get evicted. Evictions are an expensive and time consuming process for landlords and should always be avoided. The best way to reduce your risk of having to deal with an eviction due to non-payment is to always screen your tenants and approve applicants that have a verified income, good rental history and a sparkling credit report, to ensure they can afford the asking rent and have demonstrated responsible financial habits.
Solution: While your options are limited when it comes to making a non-payer follow your lease terms, the best way to help your tenants make early or on time rent payments is to offer online payment options through your property management software. Online rent payments options let renters schedule automatic ACH or credit/debit card payments. As an alternative to late fees, another way to encourage early payments is to offer an incentive, like a $25 discount if rent is received before the due date.
By far the best way to find tenants that pay rent on time or early is by checking landlord references during your tenant screening process. Calling landlord references will expose an applicant’s late payment history giving you insight to your potential tenant’s rent payment behavior. A negative reference should be red flag and approval could put you and your property at risk.
In Part 2 of Types of Tenants: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly we will explore the most common types of rule abiding behavior found in tenants and how to improve your chances of finding the good ones.
So you have to pay your rent early to be considered a good tenant? I disagree. I find a lot of your articles bias and in favor of the landlord. It paints an unfair image that tenants should have to jump through hoops and hurdles, pay the rent early and be at the mercy of their landlord who are notorious for being able to skate by, just underneath of unfair laws set up in their favor. I’m not saying landlords never get short end of the stick but anyone who has ever rented in their lifetime can vouch for this. Especially in certain States, maybe more than others. Someone shouldn’t be considered a bad tenant because they pay within the specifications of their lease, if that lease grants a grace period.
As a renter I was always one to pay rent on the last day of a grace period, assuming I was paying rent on time. It wasn’t until I started working in real estate and became more familiar with landlord-tenant laws, that I realized, paying rent during the grace period technically counts as paying rent late. It’s only that a landlord cannot charge a late fee during the grace period. But I do agree with you, paying rent on time makes for a great tenant, it’s not only about paying rent early. In a landlord-tenant relationship, both parties are responsible for upholding the lease and following state laws to ensure a smooth and amicable tenancy.
The article doesn’t say that at all. It specifically includes people who pay by the end of the grace period.
You are missing something very important, though. The payment is due on the due date and you have given your word that it will be paid by then. The grace period is something that is granted to you too help you out in the event of a difficulty. It is not a right, it is an act of charity.
When you pay after the due date but before you are penalized, you have failed to meet the terms of the contract and have not kept your word. If you planned to do this when you signed the lease, you not only lied but committed an act of fraud.
You also do yourself no favors by taking advantage of the grace period. When you do have a problem, you effectively will have no grace period, this composing your financial problems greatly.
How patient will you be if your employer starts paying you a few days late each period?
Hi Bill, Thank you for weighing in on this important subject. I really liked your analogy of getting a pay check on-time.
To speak to what is also missing, I would go one step further and suggest that many renters miss the subtlety between due on and due by.
Many landlords assume the tenant knows all these industry terms so it comes down to the landlords and property managers to help with that education. In my past life as a property manager, I learned the importance of spending that little extra time during lease signing to help them understand those nuances. I might not go as strong as to say a grace period is a charity as the rent is still obligated to be paid and no discounts are given, but I would say a grace period is certainly a kindness.
Thanks again for your thoughts and time.
Is there a good, bad as and ugly landlord page to read? I feel like we have to walk on eggshells where we live. My husband and I, as well as our neighbors are always wondering what little thing will set our landlord off. Its definitely not peaceful around here.
There is never any reason to walk on eggshells if you simply comply with the terms of your lease.
Exactly! A good relationship is built on clear boundaries and communication and the lease is the foundation. Sadly, too landlords use boilerplate leases without specific rules, regulations, or conditions — or worse, provide no formal lease or rental agreement. In either case, it leaves both parties vulnerable to potential legal issues and can make for a toxic relationship.
Tenanets fighting one another and starting to involve other people