Even with carefully-screened tenants, landlords can suffer if they are not watching over the property. Few landlords enjoy property inspections. But failure to adequately supervise tenants can lead to income loss. Receiving a rent check each month is not the measure of a successful tenancy. Tenants also must abide by other terms of the lease agreement.

Haven’t been to the property in a while? Here’s what your tenants are doing when you’re not around:

More Occupants Than You Bargained For

One of the most common lease violations by unsupervised tenants is taking in roommates. You went to a lot of trouble to choose a tenant with decent credit and a good rental history. Allowing that tenant to open the door to other residents increases landlord liability and potential income loss, especially if the new person can’t pass tenant screening.

New residents don’t know the rules and aren’t obligated under the lease. Imagine what would happen if that unknown occupant winds up being the only person at the property.

Each adult occupant should be on the lease agreement, and the lease should contain a guest policy that includes the right to ask for a tenant background check on new occupants. Don’t allow new residents to slip in under the radar.

Lease Violations Galore

Give an inch and some people take a mile.  Allow the tenant one dog, and before you know it there’s another — or three, and maybe a cat or two, and perhaps a hamster. Or a snake. Before allowing pets into a property, the animals must be screened to determine if they’re safe around others. But turn a blind eye, and tenants will feel emboldened to push the limits.

Lease violations tend to compound — once tenants see there’s no pushback, they’re likely to lose sight of the lease rules altogether. Parking violations, noise complaints — even criminal activities — are far more likely when tenants think they have free rein.

Ignoring Repairs

Nothing says “I don’t care” like ignoring the property for a year at a time. If you wait until the end of the lease to inspect, that water stain in the ceiling will have spread. The leak around the toilet will have destroyed the subfloor. And the mice in the crawlspace will have multiplied many times over.

Tenants who feel the landlord is apathetic have little incentive to report property damage, especially if the tenant contributed to it. Routine property inspections allow a landlord to prevent additional — and sometimes catastrophic  — damage to the property.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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The rental application is a fundamental tool for landlords when it comes to finding the right tenants. But an application is only as good as the information contained in it. One way to obtain the best information — and weed out bad tenants — is for the landlord to attach a cover letter that explains the significance of the rental application.

Here are some tips for drafting the rental application cover letter:

Tone is important because this is the first official document that the new tenant will see, so be firm but kind. Don’t be informal, funny, or chatty — that sends the wrong message. But polite and respectful words can put the applicant at ease. A tenant who is trusting of the process is more likely to provide the most complete and accurate answers.

Many property managers use a form letter or instruction sheet as a transmittal for the rental application. While this format looks official and sets a firm tone, using one of these forms is not always the most effective strategy.

Instruction sheets often are generic, with multiple check-off boxes. Not only is this confusing for the applicant, but it’s impersonal, which can discourage complete answers. Also, these forms can be intimidating. For instance, if the first line of the form is a list of all the personal documents the tenant must hand over, along with a demand for money, the applicant may become defensive. That resistance only encourages omissions and sketchy answers on the application, and turns off the best rental applicants. A letter format allows for a more personal, welcoming introduction, like:

“Thank you for your interest in the rental property located at 123 Main St. This is our rental application. Before you get started, let me explain how our process works.”

That makes the landlord’s subsequent demands more palatable — and less like a slap in the face.

The most important point to make in the cover letter is that the application is a legal document, and failure to provide complete and honest answers will be considered fraud. That can lead to the application being rejected, and may be a crime. Explain that the tenant will be asked to verify with a signature that the information is true and complete, and that each item will be verified. Warn the applicant that even if the application is approved, if it is based on false or misleading information, the tenancy may be terminated. This information should be one of the first things the applicant reads in the cover letter, and the applicant should read it before beginning to complete the application.

Explain that each adult occupant must complete a separate application based solely on that individual’s information.

Let applicants know they will be asked to consent to a tenant background check which will include a credit check, eviction and criminal histories, and confirmation of references. If the landlord cannot get in touch with the references, applicants must facilitate the reference process or the application may be denied. This will discourage applicants who were planning to bluff their way into the property by listing references who they know are unavailable.

Provide contact information and encourage the applicant to get in touch with any questions regarding the leasing process. Be approachable. Open communication will encourage truthful answers and sets the stage for a successful landlord-tenant relationship.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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Landlord to Pay $300,000 in Bedbug Dispute

February 12, 2018

A Brooklyn tenant recently was awarded $300,000 from his landlord in a dispute over bedbugs. According to a news report, the tenant claimed that the infestation continued for over two years, despite repeated requests for remediation. The tenant claims to have suffered permanent scars from bug bites. In contrast, a landlord sued a tenant last […]

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Minimizing Landlord Liability for Dog Bites

February 12, 2018

Roughly one-third of all insurance claims against property owners are for dog bites and the average cost to settle a dog bite claim is now $32,000, a significant rise from previous years, that according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. Experts attribute this spike in part to the increasing willingness of juries to […]

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Understanding the Risks of Failing to Conduct Regular Property Inspections

February 1, 2018

by Jim Garnett, Canadian Tenant Inspection Services Ltd. When was the last time you inspected one of your rental units? If you can’t put your finger on the date, then you might be in for a surprise, as well as some unexpected expenses, potentially dangerous situations, litigation and more. While you might consider insurance as […]

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Tenant Scams Landlords with Fake Credit Report

January 29, 2018

Earlier this winter, two Toronto landlords from the same neighbourhood teamed up to hang posters with a photo of the same tenant they say scammed them. According to a news report, at least three adjacent landlords encountered the same tenant, and had the same experience: the man lived rent-free while the eviction process dragged on […]

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Crisis Mode: What to Do with Tenants From Hell

January 29, 2018

An Alberta landlord reported that her property was sacked by her tenants, littered with crack pipes, the walls spray-painted, despite the fact that children lived in the home. The tenants moved on, which means now they are someone else’s problem. In hindsight, it’s obvious that the best way to prevent property damage is to avoid […]

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City’s Nuisance Law Sparks Controversy

January 29, 2018

A proposed bylaw in Prince George, B.C. that would require landlords there to reimburse the city for police, fire and city service calls is meeting opposition from landlords and tenants’ rights advocates alike. The law would allow city officials and the police to determine if a property is a nuisance. That determination will take into […]

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British Columbia Sets 2018 Deposit Interest Rate; 4 Tips for Handling Security Deposits

January 29, 2018

The interest rate to accrue on security deposits in British Columbia in 2018 remains at 0%. Landlords in British Columbia are required to pay interest on security deposits on an annual basis. That rate is set each year by the Residential Tenancy Branch. The rate has remained at 0% for the past nine years. The […]

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Tenant Screening Tips: How to Verify Rental History

January 15, 2018

Tenant screening is a two-part process. A landlord must verify credit-worthiness — the ability and willingness to pay rent, along with tenant-worthiness — the applicant’s rental history. Running a tenant credit check is crucial for determining if the applicant tends to pay the bills. But credit alone may not expose a tenant who has broken […]

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