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Spotting a Trouble Tenant: Safeguarding Your Rental Property

by Editor | ezLandlordForms
spotting a trouble tenant

From lawsuits, to destroying your property, a terrible tenant is a landlord’s worst nightmare. Trouble tenants may even drag out the eviction process indefinitely, all the while living in your rental property free of charge.

So, how can landlords safeguard their rental property? Spotting trouble tenants before they cause headaches is key.

First things first, the rental application. A prospective tenant may cause problems without even being a tenant, by claiming “discrimination” in the rental application process. If the rental application has been submitted, and you feel the prospective tenant may cause problems and in turn deny their application, they can sue you. The prospective tenant may claim you denied their application for reasons unrelated to their ability to pay rent.

Great news, the above mentioned situation can easily be avoided! First, speak with the possible tenant extensively and learn as much as possible, before offering the opportunity to fill out a rental application. Ask a lot of questions regarding current and past employment, their income, rental history (a great indication if they’ve lived in the same rental for a while), etc. Try to develop a “gut feeling” regarding the kind of person they are; easygoing and friendly, or reactionary? Do not give them a rental application if you feel the slightest hint of a red flag, take their phone number and tell them you’ll contact them.

When giving an applicant a rental application, be sure to also include a letter outlining the criteria you’ll be using as a deciding factor. Be sure to verify the prospective tenant’s income, past and current employment, along with their credit report, criminal background and eviction history. Being informed will help you to make an educated decision.

If a rental application has already been submitted, and you feel you may have a trouble tenant on your hands, mail them a written notice rejecting their rental application. Be sure to keep all written records with regards their rental application; credit report, employment and income history, and any other collected information. This information is priceless if for some reason the person claims discrimination. Your due diligence in evaluating their rental application will come in handy.

If the rental agreement has already been signed, and indications of trouble arise, be sure that all correspondence between you and the tenant is in writing, and keep copies. Documentation will be necessary if you find yourself in court. Depending on your state, send written notice in advance ( 60 days may be necessary) stating that you will not be renewing their rental agreement, and they must vacate by a certain date.

Lastly, don’t give tenants an excuse to sue you, tread lightly and be very diligent in offering all disclosures and pamphlets with the rental agreement (such as lead paint disclosures), and be responsive when they contact you about repairs.

Get trouble tenants out quickly, quietly, and try to minimize their damage to your rental property.

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