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How to Deal with a Problem Resident in Your Rental Property

June 19, 2017 / by Brent Silberbauer

property manager confronting residentWhen you first invest in real estate you run a lot of numbers. You want to calculate your Cap Rate, Cash Flow, ROI, projected income, gross rent multiplier, etc. Everything looks good so you pull the trigger.  Great, now you just need to keep your property rented and let the numbers run their course right?  Well, there is one variable that can’t be calculated, and that is people. You are renting to people. And where you find people, inevitably, you will find problems. It’s just the way it is.

So, what do you do when you start to realize that there is a problem resident living in your Redding or Chico rental property? When those people with perfect credit scores turn out to be perfect control freaks calling you every time the landscaper doesn’t edge the grass just right. Well, here are some tips to handle problem residents when they move into your property.


Stephen Covey wrote a book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It was a groundbreaking book that became foundational in the genre of success literature. One of the habits is “First understand, before being understood.”

This is fundamental when dealing with problems of any kind. You first need to listen to your residents to understand their perspective. Do not bring any preconceived notions into the conversation. First simply ask questions to understand the situation. Not only will this help you assess the situation accurately, but when people feel understood they calm down and are more open to listening to your solutions. 


Sympathy and empathy are two different things. If someone falls in a hole sympathy says “Oh, you’re in a hole. That’s unfortunate.” Empathy, on the other hand, gets down in the hole and sits next to the person. Empathy is a heart thing and it’s hard to teach. As much as you can, try to put yourself in the resident’s shoes and try to feel how they feel. Empathy is a difficult concept to employ, but when people feel understood by you it’s a game changer. 

Don’t React – Respond

You can’t control people. It’s just a fact of life. So, when someone goes off on you because their kitchen sink wasn’t fixed correctly, or their air conditioner went out on a hot day, how do you do emotionally? You can react, or you can respond.

When taking medication if you get a reaction, that’s a bad thing, but when your body responds, then that’s a good thing. The same is true when you have an angry and irritated resident. Don’t react, respond. This takes humility.

Listen to the resident and apologize for anything that you or your company could have done better.  Don’t allow yourself to become angry or offended, but remain calm. When you’re calm you’re able to think of creative solutions, but if you let yourself be offended and angry then the creative side of your brain literally shuts down. Anger, fear, and offense are emotions that are processed in a totally different area of your brain than the creative problem-solving area where your brain needs to be operating out of. 

Provide a Solution

There are a million things that can go wrong with your Redding or Chico rental property. Our company manages over 2,000 rental units and we have been doing it for decades. We have seen the good, bad, and ugly. But one thing remains – there’s always a solution. Granted, some solutions are more expensive than others and some solutions are harder than others, but there are always solutions. 

Sometimes the solution is for the resident to move out, especially if they aren’t happy.  Ninety percent of our leases are month to month for this reason. If there’s someone not happy with our service or our property then they have the freedom to leave. Sometimes you need to bite the bullet and return some of their deposit or pay for some other maintenance issue. The more solution minded you become, the better you’ll be at handling the issues that arise. 

Hire a Redding or Chico Rental Property Manager

I know this sounds like a shameless plug because I am in the property management industry, however, if you have a hard time with problem residents, then just don’t deal with them. Hire someone else to take on all the headaches. When you work that into your cash flow equation you can factor out how much emotional energy you will spend on difficult residents. Not only will you save your most valuable resource – your time – but you’ll also save yourself the drama. 

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Topics: Residential Property Management