Earlier this week, we wrote up a post on bad landlords and what you can do about them as a renter. Because there are just as many bad tenants as there are bad landlords – more of them actually, we decided to look at bad tenants and discuss the different ways to handle them.
If you’re a landlord, then you’ve probably rented to at least one bad tenant at some point. It just seems to be the way that things go. Even someone who seems like the most pleasant person ever at an apartment showing can turn into a horror from the deep once a lease is signed.
Just like we mentioned in our bad landlord post, the best thing to do about a bad tenant is to not rent to them in the first place. But how exactly do you do that? Let’s take a look.
If you’ve been following our blog here at Rocket Lease or, well, almost any blog regarding the rental industry, then you’ve undoubtedly heard about tenant screening. Chances are, especially if you’ve read any of our past posts, that you’ve also had the benefits of tenant screening thrown in your face more than once.
The reason for this is that tenant screening is one of the best ways – maybe even the only way – to protect yourself from bad tenants. It is incredibly easy and cheap and allows you to thoroughly evaluate rental applicants before you take out the paper and the pen (or the computer if you stay on top of the game) to have them sign your lease agreement.
Tenant screening usually consists of checking an applicant’s criminal history, employment history, rental history, and credit history. Sure, it’s a lot of histories, but that’s good as far as tenant screening goes. Knowing how the applicant treated landlords in the past, whether or not they made payments on time, and how secure they are with employment are all important things to know before renting to them.
For more information on tenant screening check out our post on the five reasons that you should always screen your tenants.
Great Lease Agreement
Even if your tenant screening screen is tightly woven and will barely let air through, it pays off to have a second line of defense. Simply put, some people are tricky, they’ll work their way through even the tightest of checks and soon establish themselves as tenants from hell.
A great lease agreement – great meaning airtight – is the best way to protect yourself from bad tenants that wormed their way through your screening process. It can be instrumental in helping you work through problems that crop up in the future.
A great lease agreement should clearly and concisely state your specific policies on cleanliness, late rental payments, criminal activity, property maintenance, and all other common rental-related problems. You should also clearly state the penalties for breaking each of the rules.
Keep it in mind that every state’s landlord-tenant laws are different. Be sure to consult your specific state’s laws when drafting your lease. If you do end up renting to a bad tenant and you have to evict them, then having an airtight lease that adheres to all local and state regulations will protect you in court from the sleazebag lawyers hired by the tenants.
Ask the Tenant to Vacate
It’s usually best to try things the easy way before getting yourself involved in the messy process of an eviction. Ask your bad tenant for a meeting, sit down with them in person, and offer them a deal to get out of the property within a week. If they can be all moved out by then – belongings and everything – then you won’t take them to court for an eviction. Many tenants will choose to go this route because a filed eviction will show up on their credit report and make finding an apartment difficult in the future.
If you reach this stage, you’re probably fed up with your bad tenant and don’t really care what happens to them. You have a right to feel like this but don’t let your anger boil over. You need to make sure that you carefully follow all of your local area’s eviction laws – otherwise you’ll be the one that’s in trouble.
Evicting a bad tenant is a whole post in itself so we’ll be sure to hash one together in the coming weeks. Hopefully, you’ve screened your tenants and put together an excellent lease so that you don’t have to file one before then – or ever!
At Rocket Lease, we always like to hear your tenant horror stories. It’s nice to share the pain with other landlords and maybe even laugh at your own misfortune (once it’s cleared up, that is).
Have you ever had a bad tenant? What were they doing that just didn’t cut it? How did you end up handling the problem? We’d love to hear about your bad tenant blues so make sure to leave us a comment below!
This article originally appeared on rocketlease