Landlord Afraid of What Tenant Left Behind

by Chris on June 11, 2012

Do you hate surprises when it comes to your tenants?  Most landlords do. 

Take for instance the New Bedford, Massachusetts landlord who last week re-entered his rental property after the tenant skipped out, only to find both a pit bull — and an alligator, abandoned there.

Bad tenants cost time and money.  While there will always be that one tenant who does something unforeseeable, with proper tenant screening, landlords can stave off that dreaded surprise.  

The Importance of Checking References

This story highlights the importance of checking with the previous landlords before renting to an applicant.  It is a fact that once a tenant is a problem, they tend to repeat the same behaviour.  You don’t have to reject every applicant who didn’t get along with the last landlord, but you should be armed with the information so you can make an informed choice.

When checking landlord references:
Make sure you are speaking with the actual landlord;
Speak with the current or most recent landlord; and,
Ask probing questions.

The tenant in this situation likely skipped out owing rent.  They didn’t get their deposit back.  They may not have owned the pets when they moved in, or been upfront with the landlord.  These are all appropriate areas of questioning when speaking with previous landlords.

Look for Holes in Rental History

In this case, note that the tenant may have secured a new rental home before they abandoned the last one.  Pay close attention to an applicant’s previous rental history.  If there are gaps in the rental application between rentals, or erratic time lines, like a rental that lasted eight months, you must follow up with questions. 

Stay on Top of It

Routine property inspections are the best way to discover problems early into the tenancy, and that helps to avoid surprises later on.  If it has been months since you’ve been in touch with the tenant or taken a look inside, the risk is much higher that you will be disappointed. 

Even so, it’s better to find out now, while the tenant is still around.

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 in 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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