Renter from Hell: What Every Landlord Should Know About Their Tenants

When considering to whom you should rent your property, the old Ronald Reagan adage “Trust, but verify” couldn’t be more applicable. You may have a good “gut feeling” about someone, but who among us can claim a 100% success rate with our guts?

What should I, as a Landlord do?

Start with the basics. Make sure to use a thorough rental application that covers the applicant’s credit history, references

and background. For efficiency and peace of mind, you may want to use a tenant screening service to help. Many include credit reports, criminal and eviction searches, tips and advice.

Next comes the tricky part. Many tenants have excuses or explanations about why a past living situation was problematic and will insist that it was an anomaly. They may be correct. Or they may be selling you a bill of goods. The only way to know is to check. Trust, but verify, remember?

What else can I do to protect myself, and my property?

Take the time to call the reference and get the prior landlord’s side of the story. They’re the ones who are most likely to give you unbiased information in this situation. Facts and figures don’t account for everything. Someone may have paid their rent consistently, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a good tenant. They may have paid late, trashed the place, moved in undesirable friends, disturbed the neighbors, or committed any other variety of offenses that they chose not to fill in the references and background section of their application. The only way to know for sure is to call.

Last but not least, should you decline to rent to someone for any of the aforementioned reasons, DON’T FEEL GUILTY. This is, after all, a business relationship, not a friendship. The most ethical thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to protect your investment and avoid the emotional, psychological, and financial pitfalls that can come from dealing with a nightmare tenant. If you do find a tenant that you believe you can trust, and you want to enter into this business relationship with them, make sure to get a signed residential lease agreement. A residential lease agreement provides legal documentation and specific terms whereby a landlord can rent a residence, and the terms by which a tenant must abide. Should something go wrong a residential lease agreement will protect your investment and your rights.

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