Landlords in Connecticut are picking up the pieces after their tenant added extra bedrooms to their single-family rental home, sublet the property on Airbnb, and then stopped paying rent.
Neighbors say those nightly visitors included a 40-person party. According to a report, the landlords contacted Airbnb to cancel any outstanding reservations, but Airbnb declined to intervene. Now that the tenant has been evicted, it is unclear whether travelers will continue to show up to the property believing they have a reservation.
According to the report, the landlords live a considerable distance from the property, and although they ran a credit report and checked references, they did not meet the tenant in person. They also were not aware of the tenant’s previous evictions.
The tenant did not pay rent for months while an eviction was pending, and the extent of any damage — including building code violations or the cost to tear down the retrofit — is unknown.
While this is an extreme case, it is not uncommon for long-distance landlords to suffer the greatest losses, from unpaid rent to property damage and liability for crime or code violations. There are two likely reasons for this: absentee landlords typically are homeowners turned landlords who may be lax with tenant screening and leasing rules, and tenants tend to overstep the boundaries with these landlords. Out of sight, out of mind.
These risks are too great to ignore. A tenant who performs work on the property could incur mechanics liens, shoddy workmanship, code violations, and safety issues. A tenant who allows unauthorized guests to come and go can cause property damage, excessive wear and tear, higher costs for utilities, and greater risk of crime.
Some absentee landlords get lucky the first time — or first few times. But these landlords are no match for professional tenants who know who to target, how to tell a good sob story and avoid paying rent, and how to delay the eviction through continuances and appeals.
The easiest way to avoid this liability is to hire a professional property management company that can properly screen tenants and manage them from day to day. Given that a bad tenant easily could cost a landlord six months or more of rental income, a property manager’s fees are quite reasonable in comparison.
Long-distance landlords who still want to go it on their own need to commit the time it takes to run a tenant background check:
Meet the person face-to-face and ask for a photo ID;
Demand a fully completed rental application;
Verify the information in the rental application; and
Run tenant screening reports including a tenant credit check, employment and income verification report, eviction history, and criminal background check. No background check is complete without speaking to current and previous landlords.
Landlords can create consequences for late rent payments or rent defaults by signing up to Report Rent Payments. Monthly payment history is shared with a credit bureau, and can impact the individual’s credit report.
Even the best tenants can turn sour if they feel they are left to care for the property on their own. DIY landlords must make time to visit periodically to perform routine property inspections and oversee repairs. In the meantime, landlords need to let tenants know someone is paying attention, before tenants get the wrong idea and think they can do whatever they want with 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.