When renting out a property, the number one risk isn’t burst pipes, leaky roofs, or broken appliances, it is bad tenants. In an ideal situation, a tenant moves in, pays their security deposit, and has your rent check to you by the first of the month without fail. After a long rental they move out and leave the place in the same condition that it was in when they moved in. In the real world, this is not always the case. Despite seeming like the friendliest people in the world, you occasionally end up with a bad tenant. Either they don’t pay their rent on time, cause damage, or leave a bunch of junk and trash behind that you need to deal with. You may even end up with a “professional tenant”.
A professional tenant is quite simply a tenant that pays not a cent, or almost no rent while living in your property while dodging evictions at every turn. Imagine paying on your mortgage for a year or two while you receive no rent, have to go from court date to court date, and clean up the mess that is left behind. This is the reality for any landlord who does not take the proper steps to screen potential renters. A property management team can help rescue inexperienced landlords from such situations.
How Do I Protect Myself?
If you want to avoid a situation like this there are steps you can take to prevent it.
Run a background check: Make sure you run a background check on any serious applicants. History of evictions, and convictions of fraud are huge red flags! A professional tenant will often go out of their way to deny these claims or paint them to be the fault of the landlord.
Do a credit check: Does your potential tenant pay their bills on time? This is important information to have. Sometimes evictions will end up on credit checks as well. If the tenant refuses to leave the property it is considered a civil court judgment and may appear in the “public records” section.
Call references: Don’t just call the most recent landlord, and they may be less than truthful in order to be rid of the tenants themselves. Prior landlords may be more forthcoming with unflattering information.
This Seems Like an Awful Lot of Work!
I CAN be a lot of work to make sure you are going to get a tenant who will hold up their end of the bargain. If you would rather let someone with more experience dealing with this type of work do it for you, you may want to consider hiring a property management company to protect yourself.