It’s a landlord’s worst nightmare: no rent, property damage, and months to wait for an eviction.
The only way this gets worse is discovering that the same bad tenants have scammed other landlords.
A couple in Ontario have been ordered to pay over $20,000 in combined back rent owed to three different landlords, according to a recent news report. In one case, the Landlord and Tenant Board ordered the tenants to pay $7,800 in unpaid rent but stopped short of evicting them.
Another monetary award — for $9,250 — was entered before the first two monetary awards had been paid off.
And those awards do not include any property damage the couple caused — an estimated $15,000 in one rental alone.
The current landlord is experiencing the same problems. Yet, that information is not readily available to future landlords.
According to the report, the tenant bragged about knowing the ins and outs of the eviction system and successfully delayed the process simply by not showing up. Eviction delays are systemic to the dispute resolution system, and tenants — even nightmare ones — are given every opportunity to delay and defraud. Landlords cannot rely on the eviction process to minimize this income loss.
The Signs Were There
It’s not easy to catch tenants from hell, even the ones who victimize several landlords. Avoiding these tenants requires some savvy when it comes to spotting the warning signs. In the Ontario case, the signs were there:
Paying in cash;
Not enough money to pay first and last month upfront;
Moving at odd intervals — in one case, at five months;
Wanting to move in right away;
Recently bounced rent cheques; and
Apparently providing an incorrect phone number.
Anytime a rental applicant asks to change the essential terms of the tenancy, that’s a red flag. The individual may be testing the waters to see just how far the landlord will bend. Applicants in the process of eviction will be desperate to move in and short on cash. Moving prior to the term of the current tenancy agreement is a sign of a pending eviction.
Hold Tenants Accountable
One of the reasons that bad tenants get away with hurting multiple landlords is that the landlords are not sticking together. One of the best ways to discover the applicant’s rental history and protect future landlords is to participate in the tenant database at LandlordCreditBureau.ca. This database can confirm a good rental history, as well as flag tenants who have defaulted on rent or caused property damage.
Report Rent Payments
By signing up to Report Rent Payments, landlords provide incentive to tenants to pay rent each month. That information is shared with a credit bureau and associated with the individual tenant’s credit report.
Demand to Speak to Previous Landlords
Prior landlord references are crucial to catching professional tenants, especially those in the process of eviction. Tenants who refuse to provide accurate contact information regarding the current and previous landlords are not qualified.
Run Tenant Credit Checks
A tenant credit check can expose unpaid rent, late payments, bounced cheques, evictions and judgements from other creditors, including previous landlords.
Take legal action to stop a bad tenant at the first sign of trouble — the first skipped rent payment or signs of property damage. Weighing the tenant’s excuses or negotiating will only embolden a bad tenant and delay the hearing process for an eviction. Seek legal advice regarding the forms that need to be filed and served on the tenant. Any mistakes will further delay the process.
Documentation is Key
Be prepared to prove the case in dispute resolution by keeping contemporaneous records of the tenancy, including rent receipts and notes of conversations.
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.