Landlords own valuable assets. A real estate property can increase in value over time – effectively adding to the wealth of whoever owns it. And, in the meantime, savvy landlords can gain big profits by renting their space to reliable tenants.

But a lot of things can keep you from getting the most out of your rental property. Owning a valuable property means facing lots of risks and dealing with lots of problems. Landlords have to be proactive and decisive, but also careful and smart. As a landlord, you’ll likely face down a wide range of different problems – but one potential problem looms larger than the others.

Landlords face lots of challenges

Landlords know that unexpected expenses and problems can arise from all sorts of places. Perhaps you’ll have to pay to fix a leaky roof, or maybe you’ll have to replace a malfunctioning plumbing fixture or an appliance. Or maybe the rental market with suffer in your area, and your space will stand empty for a time, robbing you of that valuable rental income.

All of these are serious issues. But the pale in comparison to the single worst problem that a landlord can have – bad tenants.

The issue with bad tenants

Lots can go wrong on a rental property, but problems with a tenant top the list. A bad tenant can exacerbate just about all of the other problems a landlord might face, while also causing fresh problems.

A bad tenant might throw parties and damage the property. They might neglect basic duties and household tasks that are expected of good renters, such as cleaning and making minor repairs to obvious places. And a bad tenant may neglect to report minor issues to you. Instead of being able to fix these little problems, you’ll remain in the dark until the issue becomes serious enough for it to come to your attention despite the neglectful nature of your lousy tenant.

And if you and your tenant aren’t getting along – or even if your tenant is merely a rotten person – things can go from “neglect” to “vandalism” very quickly. On top of that, your tenant may be unable or unwilling to pay their rent.

Landlords have ways to fight back, of course, but your resources may be more limited than you might think. Getting a tenant evicted is a very costly and lengthy process, especially in some states and cities that have strong laws protecting renters – places that include obvious spots like New York and San Francisco as well as surprising ones, like Arizona. And when you succeed, you’ll merely get your property back. Getting back rent is another ordeal entirely, and the price of taking a deadbeat tenant to court can eat into any potential winnings you’d get there. A bad tenant can leave you with a major loss of rental income and major repair work to be done on your property. That will seriously affect your ability to profit from your property.

How to stop bad tenants: don’t rent to them in the first place

Bad tenants are an absolute nightmare to get rid of once they’re on your property. But the good news is that you have a lot of ways to avoid them.

The key to avoiding bad tenants is to conduct a very thorough background check and financial check of your potential renter before you allow them to sign the lease and move in. And, happily, this has never been easier to do. With online landlord software services, you can get a tenant screening report free at no cost.

Life as a landlord is never easy, but it’s much easier when you have a trustworthy and reliable tenant living on your property.