Before vacating a property because her unauthorized pet sparked a noise complaint, a tenant poured cement into the drains and washing machine and glued the dryer door shut. Prior to moving, she demanded her deposit back before allowing an inspection.
Another tenant complains that her landlord is “gouging” her by taking security deposit deductions to remove crayon and marker stains from the walls and carpet and replace a kitchen countertop that was burned. She writes, “I get the walls were messy, but why does the landlord need to charge me for replacing the counter when I only burned part of it?”
In both cases, the tenants threatened to sue the landlord.
These are only two examples that demonstrate a disturbing trend: tenants who feel private landlords owe them something.
This spiteful attitude may be fueled by rhetoric from other tenants and tenant associations that spreads on social media and paints landlords as money-grubbing, uncaring business owners. Some local lawmakers are taking the bait.
Tenant screening limits, security deposit restrictions and rent caps are becoming increasingly popular on the premise that “housing is a right” even if that housing is privately-owned and the tenant has trashed other properties or failed to pay rent. Rent increases based on market demand are treated like a crime, while those same local governments make no accommodation for landlords’ rising costs, including property taxes and insurance premium increases due to property damage.
What’s more, these “tenant protection” ordinances don’t acknowledge that a lease agreement is a two-way contract and tenants have an obligations to meet their end of the bargain. Much effort is dedicated to educate tenants on their rights, but not so much on their responsibilities. And virtually no effort is made to hold tenants accountable when they behave badly.
Landlords who make bad choices — like charging full pop to replace a ten-year-old carpet or $150 to throw away one kitchen-sized bag of trash inadvertently left in the can — cause exponential harm because these stories resonate with tenant advocates and support the narrative that all landlords are bad people.
Those landlords who act professionally must take steps to hold tenants accountable. Landlords need to take care of themselves, because in today’s regulatory climate, they can’t always count on their local tenancy laws to protect them.
Fortunately, landlords do have tools at their disposal to create that accountability. That is, if landlords use them.
Creditors like phone or credit card companies don’t mess around. If you’re late, you lose your privileges. Now, landlords have that same option. Pay rent late, damage the property, and it goes on your credit report. Not only will that impact a tenant’s ability to rent in the future, it may derail a credit application for a car loan or a mortgage. Landlords who don’t Report Rent Payments risk late payments and defaults.
By reporting rent payments, landlords also can add tenants to LandlordCreditBureau.com. This searchable database helps flag problem tenants who have ripped off other landlords — including the tenants who apparently feel that’s their right.
Reporting rent payments isn’t just a way to rein in bad tenants. The best tenants benefit from reporting on-time payments through improved credit scores and rental history. In fact, responsible tenants are clamoring for that amenity.
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.