Log In Sign Up
Home Blog Landlording & Rental Properties

Nine Easy (and Stupid) Ways to be a Terrible Landlord!

Brandon Turner
4 min read

I’m going to say something a bit dramatic here: I believe 99% of the problems that landlords face is NOT because of the tenant, but because of the landlord.

Yes, that might offend some people but in my experience, most of the tenant horror stories I hear of (and complain frequently about!) are a result of the landlord doing an inadequate job at their job. And don’t think that I’m excluding myself in this. I can clearly look back on my past and see that 99% of my problems have been a result of something I haven’t done right.

So today, I want to share some of my observations and list nine ways to be a terrible landlord. Yes, I want to have some fun with this, but there is also a lesson to be learned. By mastering the craft of being a landlord, you can reduce a lot of stress and conflict between you and your tenants.

Let’s get started

1.) Don’t Charge a Late Fee

Don’t worry – your tenants will pay soon. They have important bills to pay, trips to take, and TVs to buy. Why worry about getting the rent on time? After all, it will come in soon. Or maybe not – but that’s okay too. Just let your tenant pay when they want and you’ll be the best landlord ever. After all, no one likes a landlord who enforces the rules, so let them get away with paying late, and soon you’ll get the bonus benefits of letting them move their shady friends into the unit, parties at all hours of the night, a trashed house, and more.

2.) Don’t Fix Maintenance Problems

Look – a house is expensive to fix, and if you use all that hard-earned rent on fixing holes and leaks and stuff- you aren’t going to have any money left over for your new car. Besides – water always flows down hill anyways, so it will eventually make it’s way to the ground, just like the rain. In fact, by not fixing the maintenance problems, you are actually helping your tenant by not interrupting and intruding on them.

3.) Hire Uncle Eddie to fix stuff

If #2 is unavoidable – by all means do not hire a professional. They are far too expensive. Hire your Uncle Eddie, because he is pretty handy with the duct tape and hammer. He once remodeled his entire mobile home using nothing but super glue, chewing tobacco, and popsicle sticks – so he’s more than qualified to fix a little problem at your rental house. Save the cash, don’t hire a pro; you’ll regret it when the bill comes.

4.) Don’t Rent to (Insert Race, Gender, Religion, Etc) Tenants

You don’t like them – so why rent to them?

Just say no.

You have the gold, so you make the rules – and if you don’t want (insert race, gender, religion, etc) tenants, then don’t. Just be sure to be upfront about your standards, and include your prejudices in all your marketing for the property.

5.) Don’t Communicate With Your Tenant

Communication is for communists.

Are you a communist?

In the spirit of the Four Hour Workweek – things tend to just work themselves out, so let them. If your tenant calls with a concern, they are just being obnoxious so don’t call them back. Besides, by answering their complaints, you are just training them to call you with all their problems. The next thing you know – you’ll be sitting on the phone for hours as they dredge up deep-seated issues about their abusive fathers. You don’t want that – so keep a lid on communication.

6.) You Own The Place, Right?

So why bother with legal notices to enter? Just walk in when you want. If they have a problem with it – they can leave. If you want to be extra kind and generous, you can knock before entering- but definitely don’t let them know you are coming over or they’ll have time to hide all their illegal activities. Instead, just show up and catch them in the act. As an added bonus – now that you know about their illegal activities, you can simply blackmail them into obeying you!

Just don’t forget a camera, as blackmail works best with photos.

7.) A Handshake is Enough

Paperwork… ugh! Who needs it?

Paperwork is just a way for lawyers to try and get richer, so avoid all paperwork. Ain’t nothing ever been done with paperwork that can’t be done with a solid handshake. Your word is your bond.

As an additional bonus – by not using any paperwork, you can simply avoid any sort of liability! After all, if it’s not in writing, you can never be sued! (Right?)

8.) Don’t Use Property Management

Three words: Waste. Of. Money.

9.) Easy Evictions

Sometimes a tenant can just get so bad you have no choice but to remove them. However, a legal eviction can cost thousands of dollars and take months. What a waste! I’ve got a much better solution for you: just change the locks when the tenant is gone! Simple, easy. Seriously – what would you rather pay: $30 for a new lock set or $2000 for an eviction? Case closed.

After they are gone, there are plenty of ways you can use to sell their belongings, like Craigslist or a giant yard sale. Use the extra money from the sale to fund your next vacation! It serves the lousy tenant right for causing you such stress and aggravation. So hit them where it hurts – and sell their PS3!

Conclusion: Let’s Get Real

Hopefully by this time, you know I’m not serious (though, I’m sure I’ll get some mean Twitter messages calling me a terrible slumlord after this post!)

However, while these items may seem funny and absurd – I guarantee they have all been done, over and over, and there is probably more than one ex-landlord serving time in jail for some of these offenses.

Don’t be that guy.

Don’t be a terrible landlord. There are plenty of them out there, and they give the rest of us bad names. Offer good properties at fair prices and treat your tenants with respect. Follow the laws of your government (even when that government is shut down…) and genuinely try to help those who you rent to. Being a landlord doesn’t make you any better than or any higher on the food chain than your tenants. Treat your business like a business, be fair, and continually try to improve your landlording skills.

Stay close to BiggerPockets and when you have a landlording question that isn’t as obvious as the issues in this list, jump onto the forums and ask. There are thousands of people on the forums each day willing to help you out. So don’t be that guy.

Finally- for some more tips on being a good landlord, check out:

Photo: _Teb

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.