Crisis Mode: What to Do with Tenants From Hell

by Chris on 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 the tenants from hell by conducting a thorough tenant background check that includes running a tenant credit check and speaking with the previous landlords. Also, landlords can sign up for free to search the database of high and low risk tenants at Landlord Credit Bureau.

What’s important for every landlord to understand about tenant screening reports is that no one single document or reference tells the entire story. A credit check may catch an applicant who has failed to pay rent in the past. A landlord reference may flag a tenant currently being evicted before the information is available on record. The Landlord Credit Bureau database may catch a tenant who has only recently failed to pay rent.

Another advantage of a thorough tenant background check is obtaining information that can be useful in the event a tenant is turned over for collection. The rental application can lead a debt collector right to the tenant’s new front door. That’s another reason for verifying the information before leasing to the applicant.

Signing up to Report Rent Payments with TVS provides additional incentive for tenants to avoid late rent payments and property damage, because that history will be reported monthly. The information is shared with Equifax Canada, and is associated with the individual’s consumer credit report. Eventually, the tenant from hell will not be able to obtain rental housing.

Bad tenants also serve to remind landlords how important it is to visit and inspect the property regularly. While it may be an uncomfortable part of property management, the failure to appear at the property from time to time actually can encourage property damage because tenants aren’t being held accountable.

But when it does happen that a landlord is faced with the tenants from hell, it’s time to go into crisis mode and limit the damage where possible. There are two ways to reduce income loss from a bad tenant: try to limit the amount of property damage, and try to limit the time the property is out of service:

1. First off, don’t panic! It is easy to blow up an already volatile situation by acting rashly before collecting all the information.

2. Don’t go it alone unless you have experience with the eviction process. Find an attorney (or paralegal where allowed) to partner with you during what is going to be a long ordeal. Mistakes along the way only add to the income loss.

3. Get your documentation in order. The rental application, tenancy agreement, and move-in condition report need to be readily accessible, along with any notes of conversations with the tenant and receipts or estimates of work to be done.

4.  Give proper notice of entry and conduct an inspection of the property. If that seems unsafe, bring along a friend or co-worker. It is important to assess the situation as early as possible in order to line up contractors or uncover criminal activity. Arrange for emergency repairs, like water or sewer leaks. If you suspect health code or safety violations or criminal activity, get the police involved.

5. Start the eviction process immediately. Don’t wait or try to work it out with the tenant. You can always settle along the way, but you can’t speed up any mandatory time lines.

6. Don’t lose it. Don’t antagonize or threaten tenants or give in to an emotional outburst. The tenant is holding your property hostage, so don’t fan the flames or you could trigger retribution. With any luck, the tenant will devise an exit plan and leave before the eviction is completed. Angry words and disruptive fights don’t hurry along the legal process, and only serve as provocation. The tenant doesn’t care how you feel, so there’s no need to express it.

7. Don’t blame yourself, and don’t give up. The tenant is the one who did this, not you. Fortunately, not all tenants behave so despicably. Use the experience to troubleshoot property management policies that can contribute to income loss. Can your tenant screening process be improved? Do you need to stay more involved in the day-to-day management?

8. Go after a tenant to the full extent of the law. There is a common misconception that the tenant from hell will never have the money to pay a monetary award. That judgement lasts for a long time, and eventually the tenant is likely to have income or assets.

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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