Tips for Landlords: How to Write a Warning Letter to a Problematic Resident - dummies

Tips for Landlords: How to Write a Warning Letter to a Problematic Resident

By Robert S. Griswold, Laurence Harmon

As a landlord, you must be persistent in your efforts to resolve issues with problematic residents. For serious or minor but persistent infractions, consider sending the resident a warning letter that includes the following:

  • The resident’s name, address, and unit number

  • The date

  • A clear statement of why you’re sending this letter

  • Any history of what’s been done or not done to resolve the issue up to this point

  • A clear statement of the desired outcome (for example, timely rent payments, assurances that all residents, including children will follow your rules, removing an old refrigerator from the porch, and so on)

  • A deadline for correcting the problem or dealing with the issue

  • A statement of the consequences of failing to address the issue to your satisfaction

  • Your contact information

Hand-deliver the warning letter or mail it at a US Post Office with a certificate of mailing, so you have proof that the letter was delivered. You can also use certified mail, return receipt requested if the resident will sign for the letter. But our experience is that the more savvy the resident, the less likely it is that they will accept the letter.

So just going to the US Post Office and sending the letter through regular mail but getting a certificate of mailing is not only more economical but still provides that proof you will need in court as well as actually being much more likely to actually be received (and read) by your resident. Always keep a copy of communications (and the certificate of mailing or return receipt) in your files.

For more serious infractions, consider giving the resident an ultimatum via a legal notice, such as a Pay Rent or Quit notice or Perform Covenant (Cure Breach) or Quit notice. A Pay Rent or Quit notice tells the resident to pay the rent within so many days (typically three to ten) or move out.