You hear the stories from other landlords. “My tenant skipped out.” “My tenant destroyed the property!”
So, where do these problem tenants go?
They are out there, looking for another rental. And, chances are, they’re not telling you the whole story. Problem tenants repeat the pattern over and over because they learn how to dodge.
Do you know how to spot them?
“It’s the biggest mistake we see. And we see it over and over again,” begins Bill Gray, with Rent Recovery Services. “We get a file for collection,” Gray continues, “but the information on the application is incorrect. The references don’t check out. That’s when the landlord admits they never called, or they unknowingly got a glowing ‘landlord’ reference from one of the tenant’s friends.”
Due diligence is the single most important factor to tenant screening in today’s market. A problem tenant costs more than a vacancy. Be prepared to do some work when it comes to verifying the application.
Property managers see these problems frequently, and develop their own techniques to weed out these applicants. One manager shared with us that he has posed as a new renter when calling current and previous landlords as a guise to see if the reference is legitimate. “Once, I asked the reference if his unit was available to rent, but the ‘landlord’ said he didn’t own a rental.”
The applicant may be attempting to rent your unit before his landlord files for an eviction, or before that eviction shows up on screening reports.
Another way to catch the applicant in a lie is to order the Previous Address Tenant History report. Check the addresses listed on the application against the verifiable addresses and dates from the PATH report to uncover discrepancies.
Landlord references aren’t the whole story. Valid, current, emergency contact information is crucial to collection efforts, especially now when so many tenants are moving in with family members to save money.
If you are shy about calling references, consider hiring a property manager. You’ll save money in the long run when you don’t rent to the tenant from hell.
“I’ve always said that tenant debt collection begins when you meet the tenant,” Gray continues. “You don’t want to be trying to collect debt from a complete stranger.”