Navigating Tenant Disputes: A Guide for Landlords

Are you a landlord dealing with tenant disputes? Here is some practical advice on handling everything related to your tenants.

Written By

Todd Ji, real estate lawyer

Todd Ji

Published On

May 26, 2023


Being a landlord can be a rewarding experience, offering a source of income and the potential for property value appreciation. However, it also comes with its share of challenges, one of the most prominent being tenant disputes. These disagreements can range from late or non-payment of rent to property damage, extended guests, subletting, and other issues that can cause significant stress and potential financial loss for landlords. Here is some practical advice for landlords on how to handle these problematic scenarios, maintain positive relationships with their tenants, and when necessary, seek legal assistance from a real estate lawyer in Ottawa.

Dealing with Terrible Tenants

While most tenants are reliable and respectful, occasionally landlords may encounter tenants that can only be described as 'terrible'. These are tenants who consistently violate the terms of their lease, fail to pay rent on time, cause damage to the property, or engage in illegal activities.

Late or Non-Payers

One of the most common tenant issues landlords face is late or non-payment of rent. While it's understandable that individuals may sometimes face financial difficulties, consistently late or non-payment can result in substantial financial loss for the landlord.

In such cases, it's important to maintain open lines of communication with the tenant. Discuss the issue with them to understand if it's a temporary issue or a persistent problem. If it's the latter, it may be necessary to take more serious action such as sending a formal notice or eventually starting eviction proceedings.

Tenants Breaking the Law

If you suspect your tenant is breaking the law on your property, it's critical to take immediate action. This may include notifying local law enforcement or seeking legal advice. Breaking the law can range from illegal drug activity to local ordinance violations. The key is to act swiftly but within the boundaries of the law yourself, to avoid exacerbating the situation or implicating yourself in any legal issues.

Handling Extended Guests and Subletting

The issue of extended guests and subletting can be tricky for landlords. While it's reasonable for tenants to have guests or want to sublet their space, it becomes a problem when it's done without the landlord's knowledge or against the terms of the lease agreement.

If you encounter this issue, it's important to approach your tenant and remind them of the terms of their lease. If they wish to continue hosting extended guests or subletting, consider modifying the lease agreement to include these terms, ensuring that all parties are protected.

Property Damage

Property damage can be a major concern for landlords. Whether it's accidental or intentional, damage to your property can result in costly repairs and reduce the property's value.

To mitigate this risk, ensure you have a comprehensive move-in checklist that both you and your tenant sign. This will document the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy and can be used for comparison at the end of the lease. Any damage beyond normal wear and tear should be the responsibility of the tenant.

Constant Complainers

While it's important for tenants to feel comfortable in their homes and voice any issues they have, dealing with constant complaints can be draining. If you find yourself dealing with a tenant who complains about everything, try to address the issues professionally and promptly.

However, if the complaints continue despite your efforts, it may be a sign of a deeper issue. In such cases, it may be worth discussing the situation with a lawyer or a tenant-landlord mediator.

Maintain Written Records of Everything

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself as a landlord is to maintain written records of all interactions and transactions with your tenants. This includes lease agreements, payment receipts, notices, and any communication related to property issues or disputes. These records can be invaluable in case of a dispute and can provide evidence if legal action becomes necessary.

Keep Tenants on Your Side

While it may seem challenging at times, maintaining a positive relationship with your tenants is essential. After all, a good tenant-landlord relationship can result in a long-term lease, timely rent payments, and well-maintained property.

To build a good relationship, practice open and honest communication, respond to maintenance requests promptly, and respect your tenants' privacy. Showing appreciation for your tenants, such as sending a holiday card or acknowledging a tenant's birthday, can also go a long way in fostering a positive relationship.

Evict When Necessary

Eviction should be the last resort for landlords. It's a time-consuming, stressful, and often costly process. However, in some cases, it may be necessary. If a tenant consistently fails to pay rent, causes significant property damage, or engages in illegal activities, eviction may be the only solution.

If you find yourself in a position where eviction seems necessary, make sure you understand the legal requirements and procedures in your area. Eviction laws vary widely, so it's crucial to ensure you're acting within the law.

Have a Strong Real Estate Lawyer in Ottawa on Your Side

When dealing with complex tenant disputes, it can be incredibly beneficial to have a strong real estate lawyer on your side. A lawyer can provide valuable advice, represent you in court if necessary, and ensure you're acting within the boundaries of the law.

For landlords in Ottawa, TDJ Law offers a team of experienced real estate lawyers who can provide comprehensive legal support throughout the tenant dispute process.

Get in Touch with TDJ Law to Speak with a Real Estate Lawyer in Ottawa

If you're an Ottawa landlord facing tenant disputes or other property management issues, don't hesitate to get in touch with TDJ Law. With a team of experienced real estate lawyers, TDJ Law can provide the guidance, advice, and representation you need to navigate the complexities of landlord-tenant law.