Ways to deal with a non-compliant tenant

As a landlord, you must draw an agreement before taking on a tenant. This will act as a guide in case of a dispute. File photo

What you need to know:

  • As a landlord there are times when you are faced with a non-compliant tenant who needs to be evicted. Before getting into expensive litigation, it is important for you to try friendly negotiation.

Paul Kitimbo, a landlord in Ntinda, says sometimes issues such as a tenant’s failure to pay rent, unruly behaviour and poor maintenance of the house, among others are likely to make the relationship between landlords and tenants sour. But before getting into costly court procedures, landlords are advised to look for ways to deal with the issues amicably.

Written agreements
Peter Jogo Tabu, a lawyer with Jogo Tabu and Company Advocates, says before granting tenancy to anyone, a landlord must write down the rules and regulations a tenant should follow and make sure that they are on with them.
“If everything is put into writing and agreed upon, then the landlord has to enforce what they agreed upon with the tenant,” he says.
For protection from costly legal fees, landlords must ensure rental agreements contain property rules and regulations, while tenants should read carefully and understand what they sign. This way you can ensure a amicable landlord/tenant relationship that does not have to end in dispute.

Involve a lawyer
According to the Distress for Rent Act, the landlord can sue the tenant for failure to pay rent or if the tenant’s term has expired but has refused to vacate the premises. However, a landlord can also choose to refund a tenant’s money in case they want them out of the house before the agreed time of residence ends.
All this, Jogo says, has to be done with the involvement of a lawyer. He also adds that in the case where a tenant has failed to pay rent, the landlord cannot throw out a tenant but they can limit them from accessing the premises. “Usually, the court will issue a distress order that will keep a tenant away from the premises,” Jogo says.

Engage the tenants
Ritah Kiwanda nearly got thrown out of her rented apartment after she had spent close to six months without paying rent. Little did her landlord know that she had actually spent most of her money in treating her ill four-year-old son.
“I was going through a difficult time and my landlord was not an easy person to approach and talk to,” she says.
According to www.tenantscreeningblog.com, if it is a case of the tenant being temporarily unemployed or facing cash problems, the most effective rent collection method is offering a structured payment option. Accept partial payments to help a good tenant out, till they are in a position to pay in full.
However, if negotiations fail, the landlord should try and convince the tenant to leave voluntarily, by explaining the negative long-term impact eviction will have on their rental history. You will find this strategy will work as eviction on their record may make it difficult for them to find a place to rent.

Develop a system
Kitimbo says this works for landlords with many tenants. “After weeding out the bad tenants, it is advisable that a person with many rental units develops a system that would make paying of monthly rental dues easier.

For example, you can devise a system that allows tenants to pay to the bank or send mobile money instead of paying in cash,” he says.
“If the kind of system one is using is computerized then it is easy to know who is not paying on time,” he adds, saying it is much better if the system can provide for things such as gifts to tenants who have been more compliant than others.

Avoid bad tenants
The best way to avoid having tenant problems is not to allow a bad tenant to rent your property in the first place. Here are a few ways to help you do this:
1. Check expenditure versus income via three months of bank statements.
2. Watch out for forged references, passports or driving licences.
3. Make sure work references are valid – for example, ring the company switchboard rather than ringing a direct dial to make sure you are speaking to the person you think you are.
4. Research a tenant’s rental history through friends and family.
5. Closely match pay day with the rent due date.