It’s tempting to think that once a seemingly good tenant passes the credit check, signs a lease and moves in, your rental property is on autopilot until the end of the lease.
Unfortunately, that’s what some tenants are hoping you will believe–so they can turn your property into a crime scene right under your nose.
But the consequences of landlord inaction are too severe to ignore–police interaction, disputes with neighbors and other tenants, and serious damage to your property.
It’s not easy to determine which tenants will cause problems but it does help to watch for these warning signs that signal your tenant may be up to no good:
A classic sign of criminal activity in your rental property is frequent visitors. This may include some who only stay for a few minutes, typically while their companions remain in the car. Neighbors are the best source of information about this habit, and will notice the behavior right away. They may also report seeing visitors bringing in odd items like electronics which may be used to barter for drugs or sex.
Drug growing operations need water and electricity. A sudden spike in water or electrical usage could signal a problem. Other tenants may start complaining of water pressure issues, or neighbors may be complaining about bright lights at night or strange noises like humming motors or fans. Also, check periodically for tampering around meters. If the windows are blacked out during the day, that doubles the concern.
Seeing different occupants than those you rented to is a bad sign. The best way for a criminal to elude police is to have someone else apply and sign the lease–someone who appeared appropriate. Be wary if your ideal tenant drops out of sight and someone new answers the door.
Be concerned about the tenant who dodges interactions with you–suddenly wants to pay the rent off-site or refuses to answer your messages.
Falling behind on the rent also can be a sign that your tenant has abandoned the property, leaving behind a crime scene that must be rehabilitated before a new tenant can move in.
A landlord should be prepared to act quickly at the first sign of trouble in order to get the problem tenant evicted and the property back on the market.
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