Tenant Trashes Unit, Wants Deposit Back

by | Sep 16, 2019 | Tenant Screening

A Vancouver landlord recently detailed in the news how he found his rental unit after his disgruntled tenant moved out: cement in the drains, toilet, and appliances, holes in the walls, the dryer door glued shut, and the key glued into the lock.

Only three weeks into the tenancy, the landlord discovered the tenant, who at first seemed “like a good person”, broke the no-pets policy in the tenancy agreement by getting a dog — one that would not stop barking. The landlord says he gave the tenant the option of finding a pet-friendly property or another home for the dog.

The tenant agreed to move but wanted her deposit back before the landlord had a chance to inspect the property, according to the report. When the tenant left, the landlord discovered the damage.

There’s little a landlord can do when a tenant is willing to intentionally damage a property. However, there is a way to avoid bad tenants who have caused problems in the past, and prevent a repeat performance. The trick is to take a more diligent approach to tenant screening.

In a perfect world, a landlord could run a report and find out everything they need to know about an applicant: Was the person evicted, or evicted numerous times? Did this tenant cause significant property damage or disturbances? Unfortunately, finding the answers is not that easy. Even if there was such a report, there always will be cases where the tenant moves before any record of the dispute is created.

But prior eviction and property damage can be exposed. The best way is to ask for previous addresses in the rental application, including the dates those tenancies began and ended. Then, check to see if the dates add up. Does the tenant move frequently or at odd intervals? Did the applicant leave off the previous landlord’s name? These are warning signs.

Verify the dates of previous tenancies by asking the landlord to confirm when the tenant moved in and when he or she moved out. Be concerned if the information does not track or if gaps between tenancies are revealed. That could highlight a failed tenancy that the applicant is not reporting.

Look for warning signs that the tenant is in trouble: eager to move in on the spot or trashing the current landlord. Other red flags include offering cash on the spot to avoid a tenant background check.

Before agreeing to meet with an applicant, ask why this person is moving, and whether he or she has provided notice. Warn applicants that landlord references will be checked. That can discourage a problem tenant from applying.

Be skeptical of rental applicants. Each applicant is a stranger until vetted. A pleasant demeanor is not an indicator of financial responsibility or of respect for the landlord.

Not all landlords want to pursue bad tenants. That’s their prerogative. But allowing a tenant to cause damage or skip out on rent without consequences only emboldens the tenant to do it again — and again. Landlords have an option to work together to stave off bad tenants: sign up to Report Rent Payments, and expand the database provided by Landlord Credit Bureau. At some point, chronically bad tenants may realize they are running out of housing options, and that’s good incentive to do better.

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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