A man in New Jersey seems to have made fighting landlords his full-time profession. His story serves as an excellent reminder of the importance of conducting a thorough tenant check on every serious tenant candidate.
According to the Star-Ledger, Mark Newton,
“In tracing Newton’s history, The Star-Ledger found a man who, for at least the past 19 years, doesn’t seem to do much that doesn’t involve a courthouse. Records from landlord- tenant court show he and his wife have fought at least seven evictions, filing 113 complaints against landlords, neighbors and others in Newark municipal court — some of them multiple complaints against the same person. Most, if not all, were either dismissed or the person they complained about was found not guilty.”
But Newton’s former landlords say they have spent anywhere from $5,000 to $60,000 in attorney fees and up to four years in court trying to get him evicted. So why have landlords continued to rent to Newton and his family, given his extensive history of landlord-tenant battles? According to the newspaper story, Newton was already a tenant when two of the landlords purchased rental property. Another landlord said he didn’t trust his instincts and regrettably took the word of someone else. And another landlord said she just didn’t do any checks with previous landlords.
New landlords, beware: It is NEVER a good idea to trust your instincts without documentation to back it up. Tenant verification is your responsibility, and it’s one of the most important jobs you’ll do as a landlord. Speak with a tenant applicant’s previous landlords. Verify their employment. And conduct the best background check you can to make sure you’re not falling into a trap from which you’ll spend a lot of time and money trying to escape.
This article originally appeared on alwaysscreenblog