Is the Tenant From Hell Alive and Well?
What the devil can you do to avoid bad tenants?
The tenant from Hell is alive and well - and he wants to live in your house!
When a rental property becomes empty, landlords are faced with a difficult scenario. The property needs to be re-let swiftly so the mortgage can be paid and quite often there are additional council tax bills to pay even though the property is unoccupied. There's also the added expense of empty property insurance and the increased risk of vandalism.
As landlords still have these bills to pay even with no rent coming in, they're often so focused on filling the property again that they might not be as careful as they should be in their choice of tenant.
However, an empty rental property is still easier to deal with than one that's occupied by a bothersome tenant. Legal procedures for tenant eviction are tedious and expensive and if you're not discerning in your choice of tenant you could be storing up no end of hassle if the tenancy becomes unmanageable.
Landlords will all agree that their expectations of tenants are not that unrealistic: pay the rent, look after the property and don't upset the neighbours. But sadly these expectations are seldom met if a tenant decides from the start to be awkward.
Having access to a crystal ball would be a great advantage for a landlord but there are steps he can take to find the best possible tenant for his property thereby reducing the risk of problems occurring with the tenancy that will likely cost him dear in time, money and effort to put right.
The tenant from Hell could leave your house looking like this!
Recommended vetting procedures
Choosing the right tenant can help prevent no end of hassle for the wariest of landlords who are wise to implement the following recommended procedures in tenant vetting.
Try to visit the tenant in their current accommodation. This will give you an idea of their ability to take care of their living space even if it's just one room. Pay attention to their dress, their mannerisms and their attitude. If they can't be bothered to make an effort now what will they be like later?
Being a good judge of character is never enough. Everyone can be fooled into thinking someone is something they are not. You must be thorough in your screening methods.
As a responsible landlord, you'll need to carry out background checks on all prospective tenants with regards to their identity and their ability to pay the rent. This need not be as daunting as it appears; nowadays there's a vast wealth of information available to landlords on the Internet where all the relevant forms can be downloaded. There are landlord's associations to join and you need never be left in a quandary as to what to do in any particular situation regarding rental property. There are forums and helplines to assist you and sites that will help you market your rental property efficiently so voids are kept to a minimum.
Always ask for two references from a current or previous employer. References from friends and relatives are of no use at all. Although references from previous landlords are acceptable, the value of a reference from a current landlord is debatable. Maybe he wants to be rid of his tenant - so he's not going to give him a bad reference is he?
Ask for current ID in the form of a driving license or passport. Check the details thoroughly to see that the person is who they say they are. For foreign applicants, you should also check that they have a right to be in your country and are not there illegally.
Charging a reasonable application fee will reduce the possibility of time wasters and cover your fees in conducting credit checks etc.
The wise landlord will interview applicants for his rental property in a similar way to the employer who's looking for employees. You don't just take on the first person that comes along - you must be discerning and whittle the possibles down to a select few before reaching a final decision.
If prospective tenants don't have a bond or deposit you should never be lenient. If they can't save up enough for the deposit then how will they ever pay the rent?
In many ways, you'll need to think ahead and decide which applicant offers the best prospect of fulfilling the obligations of the tenancy.
When advertising for prospective tenants, try gearing your advert up to getting the best possible applicants. Show your rental property at its best to attract the best renters and make sure all repairs and maintenance issues have been resolved when it's time for viewings.
Enlisting the help of a lettings agency is useful if you have any doubts about managing a rental property yourself. If the property is a long way off from your own home you'll have no choice in the matter. Tenants often get away with all manner of wrongs when it comes to renting from an individual landlord but when an agency is involved they'll be more likely to respect boundaries and not overstep the mark. It may be prudent to happily pay upwards of ten percent of your rental income to a lettings agency to ensure that the rent is paid regularly and on time.
The tenant from hell is alive and well and wants to live in your rental property. Be wary, be discerning and you won't be lumbered with him.
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Avoiding the Tenant from Hell (USA)
Avoiding Bad Tenants (UK)
© 2015 Stella Kaye