4 Ways to Hold Bad Tenants Accountable

by Chris on March 11, 2019

Holes in the doors. Piles of trash. Months of rent unpaid. It’s difficult to witness the damage caused by a bad tenant. It’s also scary to think how often these tenants get away with it.

Landlords need to stick together to create barriers that discourage tenants from repeating the same bad behavior — over and over again.

References: It’s Better to Give and Receive

Landlord references are critical to protecting a rental property. In this case, it’s as important to provide references to prospective landlords as it is to seek those references on your own applicants.

Bad tenants balk at this step of the tenant screening process, so watch for the red flags:
The applicant asks that the current landlord not be contacted for any reason;
The current landlord is not listed on the rental application or contact information is missing; or,
The landlord reference is fake.

One of the easiest ways to confirm the reference is real is to ask questions only a landlord would know about the property and compare that with information found online. Fraudsters typically are too lazy to get the story straight. Another strategy is to leave a message or ask the person to call back and check caller ID. Or, if the landlord is local, there’s always the option of a face-to-face meeting.

Obtain the applicant’s consent before contacting the reference. Consent to conduct a tenant background check typically is included in the signed rental application.

Also, make certain that the other landlord is describing the same person. In at least once instance, an applicant assumed the identity of a favorite tenant in order to receive a glowing reference. Be sure to confirm the property address.

Be prepared to ask specific questions about the tenant that relate to the tenancy:
Did the tenant provide notice of termination?
How long has the person been at the property?
Any late payments or defaults?
Property damage?
Complaints?

Many landlords end with, “Are you aware of any reason I should avoid renting to this tenant?”

Pay it forward. Be willing to respond to other landlords who call for references. Stick to information pertaining to rental history but be forthcoming with details that may help others avoid income loss.

Report Rent Payment History to a Credit Bureau

When it comes to holding tenants accountable, the secret is to make it count. There may be no greater incentive for tenants to behave than to avoid wrecking their credit.

By signing up to Report Rent Payments each month, a landlord provides a very real consequence for bad tenants who think they can string a landlord along with late or missing rent payments. Maybe that worked in the past, when landlords had no recourse, but now landlords can stand with other creditors when it comes to accountability for payments.

While the system provides disincentive to tenants with poor payment history, it also can aid good tenants in building credit and a strong rental history.

Add Tenants to a Database

Landlords have long sought a database where bad tenants can be reported so they do not continue to rip off landlord after landlord. The problem is landlords are limited in where and how they can report such tenants. Fortunately, there is a reputable tenant database at Landlord Credit Bureau. These listings include both good and bad tenants, so landlords gain peace of mind — or a heads-up that the applicant is a tenant from hell.

As more landlords participate, fewer bad tenants slip through the cracks and victimize multiple landlords. Good tenants will benefit, while bad tenants will find they are accountable for their actions.

Pursue Delinquent Tenants

There is a myth that once a tenant skips out, there’s no way to collect what’s owed. After all, the tenant doesn’t have any money.

That myth is decidedly false.

Many tenants have the money, they simply choose to keep it to themselves. Others fold immediately once formal collection efforts have begun.

Tenants rehabilitate. A court judgment for past-due rent or damage to the property lasts a long time — often 6 years or more. By then, the tenant may have a job, bank account, or other assets ripe for collection.

An added benefit: the judgment appears on the tenant’s credit, which makes finding rental homes in the future difficult. That places pressure on the tenant to pay up — or suffer the consequences.

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 landlords of  a single-family rental home in Minnesota have agreed to pay $74,000 in damages and penalties to resolve allegations of housing discrimination.

The charges stem from a refusal to rent a large property to an extended family, and allegations of race discrimination.

According to HUD’s allegations, the owner and manager of a 7,000 square foot home on eight acres refused to rent to an extended family of eleven. The applicants claim they were steered away with disincentives including a requirement that they pay an additional $1,000 per month in rent.

The property is a six-bedroom, five-bathroom home with two kitchens. Although the applicants say they agreed to the additional rent payment and were otherwise qualified for the property, they still were rejected. HUD alleges the rejection was based in part on ethnicity.

The landlords claim that the decision to reject the family was based on functionality of the home, and that the septic system was designed for ten people. They also deny that the applicants were told they would have to pay a higher rent.

However, to avoid further litigation, the landlords agreed to pay damages. In addition to the $74,000 in payments, the landlords agreed to run a $500 anti-discrimination advertisement in a local newspaper and undergo fair housing and multicultural-sensitivity training.

In recent years, HUD has taken the position that occupancy limits may be discriminatory when applied to large families. While the standards are fluid, HUD has offered some guidance on occupancy limits. These factors play into the decision:

The overall square footage of the unit and common areas;
The layout of the rental property, including whether  bonus rooms, offices, lofts or dens are suitable for sleeping;
The age of the children;
Local fire, building safety and zoning ordinances. This can include septic or sewer, plumbing and other building system issues. However, these standards are persuasive only, and do not provide landlords with justification to reject families; and
State statutes, city ordinances, and HOA bylaws, also persuasive only, and can be challenged if the overall impact is to limit families.

Landlords should not adopt a blanket policy for determining occupancy limits like counting the number of bedrooms or applying gender rules for children sharing bedrooms.

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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