Heard any scary tenant stories lately?

While nightmare tenancies are rare, each time one occurs it sends shock waves throughout the landlord community. No one can completely prevent tenants from hell — and the blame rests solely with the bad tenant — but there do appear to be some common predictors that foreshadow a problem tenancy:

The landlord selects a tenant without all the facts.

Renting on Christmas Eve might sound charitable, but as one landlord later discovered, that should have set off alarms.

Bad tenants use all sorts of ploys to garner an emotional response — like asking for help at Christmas — to get out of a tenant background check that could reveal a horrible rental history. Landlords cannot afford to make judgements based on emotion.

Prequalify applicants before showing them the property. At the very least, determine why the tenant is moving. This is especially important when the tenant is coming in at a strange time, like the middle of a month or earlier than a standard six-month or one-year lease. Speak with the current landlord and find out if the tenant provided adequate notice or is behind on the rent and in the process of being evicted. Never rent on the spot to a tenant who needs help or seems charming. That is a recipe for disaster.

Don’t choose a tenant until all the facts are in. Remain skeptical, even when there’s an emotional tug.

The landlord fails to manage.

If a landlord leaves a management void, the tenant will fill it — and push the landlord out.

Landlords must know their rights and responsibilities, and then educate tenants on theirs. It’s important to lead. Otherwise, the consequences can be dire.

Once a tenant is in the property, follow procedures for day-to-day concerns like repair requests and noise complaints, and hold tenants accountable when they violate the terms of the tenancy agreement.

It’s also important to remain professional. There is no place for emotion in property management. Whether it’s nitpicking minor issues or disappearing altogether, bad communication can turn even the best tenants into monsters. Once that happens, it’s hard to salvage the tenancy.

The landlord botches the eviction.

Eviction is a highly-adversarial and complicated legal matter. A landlord cannot simply wing it and hope for a good outcome.

One common mistake with nightmare tenants is trying to be conciliatory. Everyone hopes to avoid an eviction filing, but when it comes to dealing with problem tenants, the landlord must remain in a position of power. For instance, some landlords will file for eviction first, then listen to the tenant who wants to try to settle. In that case, there is little to lose by negotiating. But allowing concessions to a tenant who is disrespectful — like a chronic late-payer or someone who is trashing the property — will only embolden a bad tenant. Eviction delays are costly and are to be expected. Starting early may be the only way to minimize income loss.

Tenants generally have access to free or low-cost legal advice. Landlords don’t. The tenant’s attorney will be combing through the eviction filing searching for any technical mistakes. That can sink the eviction. Don’t fall prey to the system. Get legal help and do it right the first time.

Landlord and tenant boards are notoriously pro-tenant, and tenants seldom admit any wrongdoing. Landlords need to be prepared to show every item of damage and prove every infraction of the tenancy agreement. Landlords also may be called upon to discuss their property management policies. With good, contemporaneous documentation, it is possible to prove that the tenant is lying and bolster the landlord’s credibility at the same time. That gets results.

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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According to a recent news report, there has been a marked increase in the number of privacy complaints filed by tenants against landlords. One major issue centers around tenant screening.

Canadians landlords are subject to the requirements of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec have similar rules at the provincial level.

In response to the increase in complaints, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) issued updated guidelines to clarify landlord rights and responsibilities under PIPEDA.

These guidelines recognize that landlords have a legitimate reason to collect private information on incoming tenants, including information necessary to verify identity, run a tenant credit check, and confirm rental history.

However, there are limits. For instance, consent to the tenant background check is crucial. Landlords must disclose the reasons why the information is necessary. That consent is generally contained in the declaration portion of the rental application, which is signed by the applicant.

The rental application should solicit only the information necessary to conduct the tenant background check and determine the applicant’s qualifications. One common complaint is the requirement that an applicant include a SIN. The OPC recommends that landlords make that disclosure optional, like when the person has a common name and the SIN can be used to ensure the landlord receives the correct tenant screening reports. The rental application should be tailored to the law. Asking too many inappropriate questions only aggravates tenants’ concerns and does little to reveal whether applicants are qualified.

Safeguarding tenants’ private information is equally important. The OPC recommends landlords not retain the most sensitive information — like copies of driver’s licences or pay stubs — to avoid unintended disclosure.

Other information should be kept under lock and key. Hard-copy files should be placed in locked cabinets away from public areas with keys not easily accessible. Digital files should be encrypted and access to devices must be limited. Sensitive data should not be stored on devices that frequently find their way into public places.

Tenant information should only be kept for as long as necessary for business purposes like potential legal liability or tax preparation. Speak with an attorney and accountant to determine how long to retain tenant information.

Once the information can be purged, do so responsibly — no recycling of private documents. Instead, those documents should be shredded or destroyed. When deleting digital files, remember to remove items from the device’s trash or back-up files.

Educate employees on the need to protect sensitive data. Avoid disclosure of information to contractors, vendors and family members who may have access to the leasing office or home office files or computers.

The OPC also recommends avoiding social media pages when running tenant background checks. That information is largely unreliable, it doesn’t take the place of tenant screening reports, and too often it reveals personal information that the landlord does not have the right to know.

Landlords must avoid blacklisting or otherwise publicly dissing specific tenants by revealing personal details online or around the community. However, the OPC acknowledges that there may be appropriate mechanisms for reporting bad tenants — to a credit bureau, for instance.

Overall, the best way to avoid privacy concerns is through good communication. Fortunately, this also is the best way to obtain the information needed for a successful tenant background check. Assure rental applicants that:

They are only required to reveal information specifically necessary for the tenant background check and to determine qualifications; and,

Their sensitive information will be closely guarded.

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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Alberta Tenants Demand Rent Control

June 18, 2018

A grassroots tenant advocacy group based in Calgary is demanding rent control measures in Alberta. The group has initiated a petition drive which so far has netted around 2,000 signatures, according to its website. Currently, Alberta landlords are free to raise rent once a year so long as tenants receive adequate notice. However, the rental […]

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Landlords: Is Your Landscaping a Liability?

June 18, 2018

Landscaping around a rental property improves curb appeal, attracts good tenants, and increases the property value. However, it has a downside. Done badly, landscaping can increase landlord liability: Landscaping attracts pests. Bringing a little nature to the property can be more than a landlord bargained for by way of unwanted pests. Leaves left to rot […]

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Landlord Must Answer for Late Fee Policy

June 4, 2018

Landlord Facing Class-Action Lawsuit Over Late Fees A major corporate landlord will have to answer for a late-fee policy that tenants say is illegal. According to a report, the landlord owns 82,500 single-family units nationwide, making it the country’s largest single-family landlord. An estimated 12,500 of those homes are in California, where a lawsuit over […]

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More Landlords Confronting Mandatory Section 8

June 4, 2018

Landlords in Bellingham, Washington and Boulder, Colorado are among the more recent to be confronted with new rental laws that require them to accept housing vouchers, including federal programs like Section 8. While landlord participation in voucher programs is designed to be voluntary, extraordinarily low vacancy rates — less than 2% in Bellingham — and […]

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Landlord Ordered to Pay $20 Million to Injured Tenant

June 4, 2018

An Oregon jury has awarded a tenant over $20 million after he fell through a catwalk that connected two buildings in an apartment complex. Nearly the entire award is for punitive damages. The verdict was entered against the owners and managers of a 600-unit apartment complex. The landlord owns an estimated 16,000 apartment units. The […]

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What Landlords Need to Know About Tenant Files

June 4, 2018

While paperwork is never the best part of any job, when it comes to property management, it is a necessary evil. Tenant files are used for: Screening tenants; Day-to-day management; Evictions; Winning tenant disputes; Debt collection; and Sale or financing of the rental property. What Goes in the Tenant File? For every rental applicant, there […]

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Tenancy Agreements: 4 Common Misconceptions That Hurt Landlords

May 21, 2018

Tenancy agreements can be complicated. Toss in local tenancy laws and individual landlord policies, and things can get downright confusing. Unfortunately, misconceptions about the lease may lead to a false sense of security and, ultimately, to income loss. Don’t be caught off-guard. Recognize these leasing myths, and avoid problems down the road: The tenancy will […]

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3 Things Landlords Need to Know About Evictions

May 21, 2018

Some landlords rely on eviction laws as a safety net to stave off income loss. Unfortunately, that net is full of holes: Not every problem tenant can be evicted. A British Columbia landlord recently discovered that she could not quickly evict a tenant for paying late and living in filth. Despite the headaches and stress […]

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