You rent your property to a nice couple. You thought you had great success finding great tenants. They only had half the first month’s rent but you let them talk their way in anyway on their promise you’d get the rest in two weeks. You specified no pets but a week later there’s a dog in the yard and cats in the windows. And who’s that thuggish looking guy that seems to be there all the time? Two months and eight police calls later from the neighbors for noise, they still haven’t paid rent.
You file for eviction but your tenants shows up on court day and claim they can’t work for medical reasons so the judge gives them another 30 days in your place. On the 29th day they pull a midnight move out leaving behind a mountain of garbage, holes in walls, doors ripped from hinges and it looks like someone was using the living room to change the oil on their Harley. On top of it, they took the appliances. Don’t let this happen to you. Here are some tips on heading off problems by proper screening of potential tenants.
Charge an Application Fee to Potential Tenants
Charging an application fee can sometimes weed out the deadbeats among potential renters who are just going to waste your time. This can assist you in finding great tenants.
Use a Tenant Screening Service to Screen Applicants and Assist in Finding Great Tenants
The web offers several subscription-based tenant screening services where you can access comprehensive data services for screening tenants. Criminal checks, credit and past rental histories are the most useful. Some even check your applicant against the government’s terrorist watch list if that sort of thing concerns you. Use the application fee you charged to cover the screening costs. Large apartment companies and some individuals report bad tenants to the networks but not all. Most landlords and apartment leasing agents don’t look too closely at credit problems; many renters have credit issues.
Stick to Your Rules for Renters
If you don’t allow cats, don’t let them talk you into it. A nice but firm attitude that conveys you will not tolerate violations of rules sets the landlord-tenant relationship on the right foot from the start. Some landlords use an addendum to the lease that clearly and specifically states their policies — no cats, no guests over 10 days, no cars parked in yard, etc. Get the tenant’s signature to document they have been notified of your rules and policies. It can come in handy later if you end up in eviction court.
Call Past Rental References to Further Screen Tenants
Talking to someone familiar with their past behavior as tenants can provide invaluable information and foreshadow what you can expect as well.
Roommates? Get Them All on the Lease as Renters
Renting to a group of roommates or college students? List each as a tenant and have them sign. If a dispute arises between them or one is violating terms of the lease, you’ll find it easier to evict the troublemaker.
Nothing guarantees you’ll always get a sparkling tenant every time. If you’re a landlord, sooner or later you’ll get stung by a bad tenant, it’s just part of being in the rental business. Using good techniques and some common sense during the screening process can make for a healthy tenant/landlord relationship, and assist you greatly in finding great tenants.