How to Protect Your Property Against Bad Tenants

by Chris on December 5, 2016

Missed rent payments, a goat living in the house, and nine tons of trash — those details are just the highlights of one landlord’s recent bout with nightmare tenants.

The worst part of the story: It took six months to evict these renters.

In a news interview, the landlord described his property as a bio-hazard, unfit for human habitation. He estimates it will take $30,000 to make repairs, including replacement of urine-soaked floors.

tenant screeningThe story was so compelling, it prompted a response from Ontario’s Minister of Housing. He says that changes must be made so the eviction process is more fair. Details of these proposed changes are yet to be determined.

A spokesman for the Landlord and Tenant Board indicated that the average time for resolution of a dispute is 30 days, according to the report. Many landlords — and those who represent them — say that the process takes much longer, largely due to the ease at which a tenant can delay the proceedings. Meanwhile, these tenants continue to live rent-free, and continue to cause damage to the rental property.

Frustrated that his tenants — who had interviewed well and offered references — had trashed the rental house, this landlord told reporters that he is considering taking the property out of service for long-term renters, and instead using it for short-term, vacation rentals. This, he concluded, will take the Landlord and Tenant Board out of it.

Unfortunately, that strategy will not make the property safer. In fact, short-term rentals only increase the odds of property damage. That’s because bad tenants are bad tenants. They’ll ruin a property regardless of how much time they spend there.

Landlords are not helpless when it comes to protecting a property against nightmare tenants. It requires active management, as well as a commitment to join forces with other landlords:

It is impossible to assess a rental applicant’s qualifications by demeanor or appearance. Often, landlords do not realize that the good feeling they are getting is a scam. Bad tenants know what a landlord is looking for — and that’s easy to fake, at least on the surface. That’s why due diligence is so important.

Landlords must consider the possibility that the rental applicant is pretending to be someone they are not, or leaving out pertinent details about credit or rental history. Verify the person’s identity in person with a photo ID, and demand a completed rental application. Those details are crucial not only for tenant screening, but later, when attempting to collect money owed from the tenant.

Landlords must look at an applicant’s credit report to determine if the person is financially responsible. If there is nothing disturbing in the tenant’s credit report, then the landlord has the benefit of peace of mind. And, if there is something worth discovering, like unpaid rent, then the landlord will have dodged financial disaster.

The lease agreement must provide the landlord with multiple reasons to evict the tenant. It pays to keep as many options open as possible. Not only is this important when it comes to eviction, but describing tenant responsibilities increases the likelihood that tenants will  follow the rules. Landlord rights vary from one area to the next, and there is an art to drafting these lease provisions, so work with a lawyer to get it right.

One trick to reducing property damage is to catch a bad tenant as soon as possible. This requires routine property inspections throughout the term of the lease. The tenants should be aware that these inspections will take place; that can serve as a deterrent. This also allows the landlord to begin the eviction process at the first sign of trouble.

One of the most effective strategies for reducing property damage caused by bad tenants is to recognize that landlords are a community. They can help and support one another. That starts by “outing” bad tenants so they don’t simply move down the road and victimize another landlord. Joining forces is easy to do:

Delinquent rent often goes hand-in-hand with property damage. TVS provides a database of both good and bad tenants at LandlordCreditBureau.ca. This information is provided when ordering a tenant credit report through TVS. Landlords assist other landlords when they Report Tenant Pay Habits. TVS provides this information to Equifax Canada, which then adds it to the tenant’s credit report.

Stay in touch with other landlords. Ask for and provide landlord references. Don’t rent before contacting previous landlords.

Be involved by joining your local landlord association. These groups have been instrumental in creating positive changes, and in giving voice to the landlord community.

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 in 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.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: