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Practical Tips for Landlords Dealing with Terrible Tenants in Nigeria

Being a landlord in Nigeria can be difficult if you have bad renters

Being a landlord can be difficult if you have bad renters. Some of them consistently pay their rent late, while others are irresponsible and harm your property. Most landlords eventually have to deal with the bother of dealing with challenging renters, and it is not simple. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of the many kinds of problematic tenants to watch out for and advice to assist you to get out of tight spots. Read on for 6 practical tips for landlords dealing with terrible tenants. 

Common Types of Terrible Tenants

Applicant screening is excellent for weeding out many tenants that may become an issue down the road. However, it does not account for changes in a tenant’s financial circumstances, emotional state, or personal situations. As a landlord, review these common problem tenants so you can recognize them early and respond accordingly.

  1. A Bull in a China Shop
  2. Day Late and A Naira Short
  3. Laws Are Merely Suggestions
  4. Perpetual Complainers
  5. Strangers Welcome

A Bull in a China Shop

Property damage is a huge problem for landlords, not to mention an expensive one. Some tenants do not care for the property as they should, while others decide to make unauthorized “improvements.” As a landlord, taking preventative steps to avoid these terrible tenants is critical. Consider the practical tips for landlords dealing with appalling tenants below: 

How to Prevent Tenants from Damaging Your Rental Property

  • A well-written Lease: Carefully spell out maintenance expectations before the tenants take possession of the home.
  • Perform a Detailed Move-in Inspection: Take photos and carefully document the property condition. This will give you something to compare with once the tenant moves out, allowing you to charge for damages lawfully.
  • Conduct Routine Inspections: This is something you should put into practice for any rental property. At least twice per year, inspect the property for any potential maintenance concerns. If you see the tenant is not keeping up with the property, try to address it sooner rather than later.

Day Late and A Naira Short

It should be no surprise that late or non-payers make the top of the list of problem tenants. Late payments, no payments, or partial payments can wreak havoc on a landlord’s financial well-being. No matter how hard you try, chances are, you may still come across late payments now and again. However, to limit those occurrences, follow these tips below to get tenants to pay on time:

How To Get Terrible Tenants to Pay Rent On Time

  • Rigid Policies: Leases need to spell out precisely what the procedure for rent payments is and what happens if a tenant pays late. Advise the tenant that this is a firm policy you intend to enforce.
  • Everyone is the Same: Regardless of the situation, all tenants must be held to the same standard and guidelines. So, make this clear from the start and, in turn, avoid some of the pleadings or negotiating attempts by tenants.
  • Create Reminders: If your lease has a built-in grace period, consider an automated rent reminder for those tenants that miss the due date. Sometimes accidents indeed do occur, and a reminder may head off a potential problem.
  • Use platforms that make it easy to manage your tenant payments and requests, an example is GatePass 

Laws Are Merely Suggestions

Some individuals think they can get away with anything. Common ways that tenants break the law ranges from the illegal selling or harbouring of drugs to violent crimes and nuisance complaints. If a tenant in your property becomes criminally active, it is best to consult an attorney for advice. In many circumstances, arrests do not change the tenant’s right to occupy the home. That said, some of the tips below also help:

How to Deal with Tenants Who Break the Law

  • Screening: Pre-screening applicants will reveal their prior criminal history. Evaluate this carefully in conjunction with other qualifications. Someone with a small blip 15 years ago may be an excellent tenant but watch for recent illegal activity or a pattern of behaviour. If you see that, steer clear!
  • Regular Inspections: Periodic inspections of the home may reveal signs of illegal activities or potential problems.

Perpetual Complainers

Every landlord loves the tenant that does all the right things, and you only hear from him when there is a legitimate issue. That said, property owners also must deal with a fair share of perpetual complainers. They continuously call, at all hours, and for everything, including unreasonable requests.

How to Deal With Tenants Who Complain Constantly

  • Know Your Legal Obligations: Landlords are required to make certain repairs that are essential to the habitability or safety of the home. However, that does not mean you have to jump at every little request from tenants, knowing the difference will save time, money, and aggravation.
  • Remind Them of the Lease: A lease should spell out who is responsible for what when it comes to maintenance. Shelves fell out? Light bulb out? This is the tenant’s responsibility, and you may need to remind them of such.
  • Make use of management platforms to take off the stress of dealing with incessant complaints. 

Strangers Welcome

Tenants who try to sublet the property create problems and liability for a landlord. If someone is in your home that is not on the signed lease, that means the terms of the lease do not bound them. Avoid this at all costs by following the steps below:

How to Handle Subletting

  • Subletting: Do not allow it. You do not want anyone in your home you have not personally vetted. Make this clear as part of the lease agreement and keep the lines of communication open. If the tenant has circumstances that cause them to be away for an extended period, they need to be aware they need to inform you before bringing in someone else to take over.
  • Inspections: Just as in the other examples above, inspections can provide a wealth of information. If you discover any unauthorized occupants, address it immediately with the tenant.

Best Practices for How to Deal with Terrible Tenants

So, we have reviewed terrible tenant traits to look for and some preventative measures, but let’s face it, things still happen. Therefore, when problems do arise that need your intervention as the landlord, how you respond can make all the difference. Take a look at the practical tips for Landlords dealing with terrible tenant suggestions below on how to deal with difficult or even terrible tenants.

  1. Be calm, objective, and rational
  2. Keep written records of everything
  3. Teach tenants how they should treat you
  4. Try to get your tenants on your side
  5. Ask the terrible tenants to leave
  6. Hire a property manager

Be Calm, Objective, and Rational

It is easy (and understandable) to get angry when tenants cause problems. However, being hotheaded will only make the situation worse. Do not let your thought become clouded by emotions when you talk to your tenants about the problems they are causing.

As a landlord, you need to be the voice of reason. So, evaluate the situation carefully from all sides and take the time you need to come to the best approach. Your tenants will be a lot more receptive to what you tell them if you come across as collected and tactful.

Keep Written Records of Everything

One of the best ways to avoid conflict with your tenants is to keep written records of everything. While doing this will increase your workload a bit, it will also decrease the chances of a bad tenant trying to dispute a charge or something else with you. So, it is worth the trouble.

Pro Tip: When inspecting the property, don’t just keep a written record of your findings – take pictures and videos that feature a timestamp whenever possible. That way, no tenant can dispute necessary caution fee deposit deductions.

Teach Tenants How They Should Treat You

The tenant-landlord relationship is much like any other relationship – your actions must reflect how you expect to be treated. Otherwise, you will find your tenants taking advantage of you. If you stand firmly behind your rules, you’ll find yourself dealing with far fewer hassles.

If you do act and still can’t get the desired results from your tenants, keep following up with them. Doing so will let the tenant know that you are not going to drop the issue and that they need to resolve it quickly or face negative consequences.

Try to Get Your Tenants on Your Side

Ever heard of the phrase “kill them with kindness” as a method of handling a difficult person? Implement this strategy with your tenants by going out of your way to being kind to them, as a means of achieving a positive outcome. Examples include being extra patient, responding quickly to any calls from them, or something else.

While this method is tough with difficult tenants, it can help you win them over and build a relationship. Once you have created a good relationship with your tenants, you will typically find that they’re more likely to comply with your rules.

Hire a Property Manager

Some tenants are just hard to deal with, no matter how much you go out of your way to please them. When that happens, it is in your best interest to let someone else handle them for you. Just imagine all the free time you would gain, not to mention all the stress you would eliminate. Choosing the right property manager for your rental property is essential and for the majority of landlords, well worth the investment.


Screening tenants is the first and best defence against terrible tenants. Another way could be hiring a property management company or just basically preparing to go over and beyond to keep your property in top notch shape. Do you agree with our 6 practical tips for landlords dealing with terrible tenants? Share your thoughts. 

What do you think?

Written by Micheal

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