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Home · Property Management · Tenant Screening : Landlord Learns the Hard Way: Trust – and Verify

by Wallace Gibson, CPM, GRI

identity photoA few years ago I had a really bad tenant.

She was good at first. She sold her home and wanted to down-size after the death of her husband.
Everything was good for a few years, then her daughter had to move in because of a domestic issue and that brought kids and an extra dog.

Then her tutoring business fell off as Sylvan and other professional organizations came into town.

Then, I had to evict her as the owner needed to sell the home for tax reasons. Once she had left and provided me with a forwarding address, I was curious as to who rented to her.

Even if they did not use a landlord credit check service, my eviction would show up on the court public website.

Lo and behold, her new landlord is my florist! And yes, I have a florist in addition to a nail tech, dentist and plastic surgeon!

When I went to order my annual vendor poinsettias the next November, I asked him about her. Yes, she had been late with her rent a few times and no, he did not use a landlord credit check service or check the court website. He did not know you could do that.

After struggling with her for another year, he evicted her also. When he was screening for his replacement tenant, he called me for the website for the local courts and I e-mailed the link to him.

He trusted his gut the last time, and this time he says he will trust his gut and verify.”

Wallace Gibson, CPM, GRI, is the owner/broker of Gibson Management Group, Ltd., a full-service property management company offering 45 years of professional property management services, like credit check for landlords, for investment property owners in Central Virginia–Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Louisa and Greene counties. Her firms website is http://VaHomes4Rent.com and she blogs at www.propertymanagementmaven.com.

The American Apartment Owners Association has arranged, through its tenant screening partner, to offer its members the most current and complete collection of screening reports available, including a credit check for landlords. For more, see Tenant Screening.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, a credit check for landlords, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

  • Bob Hopkins

    Wallace Gibson’s article on checking credit references is a good reminder that even people who appear to be good can be disasters waiting to happen. Always verify their credit.

  • Angelica

    Please give me the court’s website. What information can that website give? Is it up to the minute, so to speak? Someone told me that the court can’t give very recent info.

  • [email protected]

    Background checks, for property managers, are part and parcel to our fundamental duty to protect the property rights of our clients who are the landowners. Why any one of us would knowingly choose to abdicate our legal duty and bring such liability on our clients (and hence, upon ourselves) is beyond me. Laziness, stupidity or maliciousness are the only motives that come to mind and none of them are good motives.

  • Beverly

    I love this site! I have been in the property management industry since 1981 and have had a ton of experience with problems. I take my business very seriously and make sure I always protect my clients. Screening skills are the most important issue in selecting the new resident. There are some real skill people who live off the move in, not pay the rent and fight the eviction to the end. You can pretty much pick up on them by their actions and with the right pre interview. I have been very sucessful in resident selection and have saved my owners tons of money. I currently live in New Mexico outside of Albuquerque. I hear constant horror stories of owners doing lock outs and taking posessions for payment. Some Management Companies have no idea what’s going on and are costing their owners plenty because of their lack of knowledge and education. It’s unbelievable this goes in this day and age but the general public has no idea what to do or who to report these activies to. Good job to all you professionals who take care of your owners and responsibilities.

  • Tere

    I have been enjoying every article sent via email in the past, but this is one I can not agree. The said tenant looks like a very good person and just because she is late few times, you are talking about denying her ability to rent? The first eviction didn’t even look like was her fault. Did she stopped paying rent?

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