Problem tenants: avoiding them and dealing with the ones you already have
By Sadiya Anjum
With so many landlords and so many tenants out there, it is not uncommon to hear of the landlord dying to kill his tenants. Some times no matter how hard you try or if you do not try at all, you land up with tenants which are an absolute nuisance. Of course, most landlords do and should prefer keeping legal action as a last option. But to avoid the problem tenant in the first place, know how to spot one. And if you do land up with one, know how to deal with one without bringing the cops in.
Avoiding the problem tenant:
Detecting the problem tenant before renting out to him is the actual victory. It all lies in the screening process. Start out with the references and credit check. You should be satisfied with the tenantís credit history if you want to make sure that you receive your checks on time. References must be insisted upon and followed up diligently. If there is a discrepancy in the references (tenants think that the landlord will not actually check), then you need to be on alert.
Proper references provided are usually ones that put the tenant in good light so perform some form of a background check. There are different ways to go about this, like checking criminal records. If there is even a single problem with regard to previous landlords, you may think of it as a pattern and seriously re-consider renting out to that person.
If the tenant doles out a sob story, do not melt. Maybe the story is true or maybe itís just a cauldron full of lies; one way or the other think with your head and not with your heart when you are renting out your precious property.
Getting everything in writing is essential. Along with the lease agreement, attach a document on the code of conduct expected from the tenant. Get the tenantís signature on it. Also draw up an inventory of all the contents in the house in as much detail as possible.
Watch out for tenants who do not want to sign a lease for at least six months or one year. A tenant who is going to flit around is not preferred. Moreover itís going to be expensive to advertise and acquire a tenant in just a few monthsí time.
What to do with the problem tenant sitting on your property:
Right from the start, for every little repair or dealing with your tenant, get the details on paper. Getting it in writing will save you a load of trouble and may be even money later. If the tenant is relating sob stories on why he could not pay this month, do not swallow the story so easily. Forgive a delay in payment or any other misdeed only if the tenantís record so far has been impeccable and the reason seems genuine. But be careful which stories you choose to believe Ė think Ė with Ė head Ė always.
If there have been more than a few occurrences of delayed payment, record these dates. This will be the grounds on which you can serve an eviction notice. You can record dates provided the lease states a date on which the payment should be made.
Always make sure that you are up to date with the laws in your state. Knowing your rights as well as the tenantís, will prevent you from blundering when you are serving an eviction notice or taking any other legal action.
Make sure that you chat with the other tenants and neighbors once in a way. In case you do not live on the property, it will be difficult for you to observe the behavior of your tenants. If the neighbors or other tenants have anything strange or unpleasant to relate about the problem tenant, you may want to note it down and keep track of it.
Over time, problem tenants can get worse. If you see the potential for disaster then the trick is to take action immediately. If the rent is late in the coming one more time, brace yourself for being persistent. Call till they respond or make the necessary visit if you must. If this does not work, threaten legal action. If in eight weeks the rent has not yet reached you despite several warnings you are free to take legal action. Remember if you do not enforce the lease terms or your rules stated in paper, then the tenant is likely to continue taking advantage of you.
Always try and avoid renting out to problem tenants with the help of the guidelines stated above. But if a tenant turns problematic then take action immediately to protect your rights.
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