Would You Rent to This Tenant?

by Chris on May 27, 2013

Recently, police raided a rental property in Charlottesville, Virginia and arrested three people suspected of operating an illegal business there.

The trio are accused of selling thousands of fake ID’s, mostly to college students around the country.

The dramatic raid shocked nearby residents as scores of law enforcement officials ascended on the posh neighborhood. At the property, police found 18 weapons and hoards of cash, according to a news report.

tenant screeningA single renter leased the $1.3 million home. His landlords spoke to police, and revealed some disturbing information.

For instance, the tenant told the landlords that he had placed a large safe in the property. He always paid rent in cash, and told the landlords that he once bought a $60,000 car with cash. The landlords also mentioned that the tenant “fortified” one room in the house, and filled it with boxes of latex gloves. The landlords were aware that the tenant had used multiple names and identifying information.

Neighbors noticed several cars routinely parked outside the property, according to the report.

While it is not clear from the landlords’ statements whether these red flags came up during tenant screening or later on in the tenancy, one thing is clear: this is not a tenant who should have been allowed into the property.

Now, the landlords face income loss as they wait to obtain an order for possession, and for police to release the ‘crime scene’ before they can re-rent the property.

But other landlords can find comfort in knowing that for every horror story like this one, there are success stories where diligent landlords exposed problem applicants before they became problem tenants. For instance, one landlord discovered an identity theft while verifying an employment reference.

The first step is becoming familiar with red flags that point to a bad tenant. Here, there were hints that the tenant was operating an illegal business. The fact that he paid for large items in cash — and was bragging about — is a red flag. That’s not to say that everyone who pays in cash is a criminal, but it is unusual, especially for someone who is renting, and demands more due diligence.

Multiple identities or alias names is a serious problem, as there is virtually no good reason for it.

Running a credit report likely would reveal alias names, the lack of verifiable employment or other source of income — which signals an illegal business, as well as showing previous addresses that don’t sync with the rental application or the applicant’s ID.

In addition to the credit report, eviction reports and criminal background checks expose bad tenants. Also, it is crucial to speak to the current and previous landlords to confirm the individual’s rental history, and to verify other references provided in the rental application.

Problem tenants often target single-family properties, or look for landlords with little experience managing rentals. These landlords must be especially vigilant to avoid becoming victims.

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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