True Story – when a British Columbia landlady saw a news story about a couple of so-called ‘deadbeat tenants’ who had been evicted five times in the past two years for paying little or no rent., she recognized the photo in the news. To her horror, she has just rented her house to that same couple!
Then, their first rent cheque bounced.
As spring arrives and rental units attract a lot of new tenant applications, Timothy Madden, author of SIMPLY ESSENTIAL LANDLORD’S KIT explains how landlords can avoid making the same mistakes.
STOP Playing Tenant Roulette!
Quite possibly, the most important step a landlord can take to ensure prospective tenants are legit is to ask for references and then check them. Your first line of defense is having a solid rental application, like the ones found in the Simply Essential Landlord’s Kit, that asks the questions you need answered, from the basics (name, address, phone number) to the more in-depth (previous landlords, employer, credit & personal references). All of this information is very important, but it is completely useless if, like the landlady above, you don’t verify it.
It may seem like an unnecessary expense and a waste of time to pay a credit bureau or tenant reporting agency for background and credit checks, and to call references and verify employment, but it is something that EVERY landlord needs to do EVERY time in order to steer clear of deadbeat tenants. Skipping this crucial step can cost landlords dearly from unpaid rent or property damages – money that may take years to recoup, and, in the worst cases, lead to bankruptcy.
Find Out Who They Really Are – It’s Easier Than You Think!
When you meet a prospective tenant for the first time you don’t have much to go on when deciding if they are suitable or telling the truth. For that matter you don’t know that they are who they say they are, so ask to see some identification if they fill out an application and, where possible, photocopy or photograph it. You need to know as much as you can about the people you rent to in order to protect your investment and to keep your other tenants safe and happy.
Of course there are other ways to learn who a prospective tenant (or existing tenant) really is. Try searching their name(s) on the internet for clues to their background or criminal history. Check popular social media sites like Twitter or Facebook to learn more about their personal life and habits. If they have a LinkedIn or other business networking profile, check their job history and check to see if they actually work where they say they work. You might be surprised what you can learn about somebody when they don’t think you are looking.
Know More Than Your Tenants – And Everybody Wins!
It is a sad fact that many tenants today know more about tenancy laws and loopholes than most landlords. Deadbeat tenants take full advantage of this, which is why landlords need to have a stronger understanding of tenancy laws. One bad tenant can be a menace to an entire neighborhood and should be dealt with without delay.
Smart landlords know that, in addition to understanding the law, using the proper forms to collect the information they need, and verifying that it is true, will help them avoid the deadbeats, lower turnover rates, and reduce the headaches associated with being a landlord. Smart landlords know that following the simple steps outlined above will help them maintain a profitable business and create a community of good neighbors anybody would be happy to live near.
Follow Tim at @SCP_SELK for updates and more tips.