I’ve had my fair share of nightmare tenants.
If you haven’t, good. Maybe these tips will keep you from ever having to.
Landlords tend to make dumb decisions when they’re desperate.
Ask me how I know.
I didn’t even screen my first tenant.
All I knew, was that she had Section 8, and that I was planning on having her check help cover most of the mortgage payment.
I was losing a lot of money each month paying for that mortgage out-of-pocket.
She was a nightmare.
I’ll always wonder how different things might have went, had I only had the discipline to do some very easy and basic screening tactics.
Make Sure they Fill Out the Application… Completely.
Of course, this assumes that you do have prospective tenants sign an application… (you do, don’t you?)
And don’t let them hand it back to you without filling it out all the way.
If you don’t, you’ll find that they mysteriously seem to “forget” to fill out the stuff you need to run good background checks and credit reports.
If they refuse to fill out everything, forget about them as a candidate.
Speaking of landlords and employers…
Call the References!
I can laugh at it now, but some of my tenants absolutely crapped on me (not literally).
You’d better believe I’d tell the truth if someone called me for my feedback on their stay in my house as a tenant.
Just Makes Sense
So why would you let someone rent one of your houses without checking with their previous landlords?
This one step alone can save you a ton of anguish and lost money.
It just makes sense, right?
Ask the old (or current) landlord if they’ve ever been late on rent.
Ask them how well they took care of the place.
To make sure you’re really talking to the landlord, ask them to verify the month and year they moved into that house.
Their response should be right on the money with what the applicant put on your application, or at least close.
How are they going to pay you the rent if they don’t have income?
Do you realize that people lie on these applications all the time?
You want to make sure they at least have the “means” to possibly pay you your rent, right?
So call their employers to make sure they really have a job.
When you call their employer, you might not want to just use the number they put on the the application.
For all you know, they might have you calling of one of their friends’cellphone, who’s going to act like they’re the applicant’s boss.
National Tenant Network
For $22.00, you can get a credit report and years of rental history on the prospective tenant.
To save money, I’d recommend that you only get these for applicants that have already passed the rest of your criteria.
Their reports even give you the names and phone numbers of their previous landlords.
Do a Criminal Background Check
I should’ve put this one first!
Maybe another time I’ll tell you the story one tenant I had that was selling drugs out of my rental property.
I kick myself in hindsight for not running a check on this person.
Would it have kept me from renting out to them? Maybe. Maybe not, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have hurt.
You might also want to check their name against the free sex offender registry.
Where Do they Live NOW?
If they already live in a dump, there’s a good chance that yours will end up looking like one after they’ve had their way with it.
To be fair, living somewhere that’s cosmetically bad on the outside doesn’t mean you live in filth.
But at least keep this in the back of your mind when you’re trying to decide on who you’re going to pick to rent to.
I gotta roll for now, but I’ll finish up in part two. Talk soon.
Do you have any crazy landlord/tenant stories to share? Leave a comment.