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What Your Tenant May Try To Hide From You

How well do you know your tenants? Even well-intentioned renters may try to hide the truth from you when attempting to pass a tenant screening or once they’ve made themselves at home.

While tenants differ when it comes to what they may be trying to hide, here are 10 things to watch for when you manage property:

What Do Tenants Conceal? 10 Things Tenants Hide

  1. Property Damage. Property damage is a major consideration here. Tenants do not want to lose their security deposit, so they may not be forthcoming about damage. Whether it’s a stained carpet or a broken toilet, renters may try to hide the damage or fix it themselves. Always inventory properties when turning over the lease, taking photographs so you can tell when something was damaged.
  2. Odors. Whether it’s personal hygiene or a mildew problem, renters frequently conceal bad odors with candles, incense and air fresheners.
  3. Pets. If you prohibit pets, renters may try to sneak in a cat, hamster or other animal. Some may try to earn extra income by pet sitting in their apartment. Be on the watch for signs of pets, whether it’s pet hair or strange sounds.
  4. Drug Use. Tenants who use recreational drugs will try to hide this from landlords. Learn signs to watch for to prevent a drug problem in your property.
  5. Space Heaters. Electric and gas space heaters may cost less than heating the apartment, but these pose a fire risk. These can be difficult to detect unless you’re making repairs in the apartment or monitoring heating usage.
  6. Modifications to the Rental. It’s one thing for renters to paint their room, but another for them to swap out a light fixture or alter the housing systems. Get a customizable lease from American Apartment Owners Association. Then, dictate what renters can and can’t change without permission. Monitor the home for signs of unauthorized improvements.
  7. New Locks. Renters cannot change the locks so management is unable to enter the home. Yet unscrupulous renters may try to do this. If a renter wants to change the locks — for instance, after a bad breakup — the renter must go through you. If you’ve experienced these problems before, invest in tenant screening for peace of mind that renters are representing themselves truthfully. Join AAOA to save on tenant screening and get other perks.
  8. Unauthorized Business. In the age of telecommuting, it’s fine for a renter to clock in from your property. What’s not fine is an unauthorized business that skirts the law, such as a home day care or home catering business.
  9. Smoking. Smoke quickly turns your rental into a nightmare, because the odor seeps deep into furniture, carpets and walls. Use your nose to tell if a renter is smoking or trying to mask cigarette use with candles and incense.
  10. Illegal Subletters. Renters cannot bring on additional renters without your express permission. If it seems crowded at your rental, or if other tenants complain about noise, there may be illegal subletters in your unit.

If you spot any of these 10 signs, be proactive about addressing the matter with your renters.

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