Thursday, 13 December 2018
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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Finding the Perfect Tenant

Written by Posted On Friday, 05 October 2018 07:32

 

How do you vet your tenants? Chances are, you’ll run a credit check and a criminal background check. If all goes well, congratulations! You’ve got a new tenant.

Well, I’ve found that it’s not so simple as that. There’s more to consider when evaluating a tenant than his rental history and his arrest record.

I run an agency that doesn’t always cater to the most financially stable individuals. Our tenants range from those with prior evictions to families with perfect credit scores. With that said, some of my best tenants have been people who simply need a second chance, and some of the worst are those with solid jobs and great credit. Put simply? Don’t judge a tenant by his credit score.

Unexpectedly Bad Tenants

I once rented a home to a man who’d recently come across a large sum of money by way of a motorcycle-accident claim. This man paid the full six month lease upfront, and I thought I’d stumbled upon the perfect tenant.

Until the calls began to come in. First, neighbors complained about the state of his yard – it was overgrown and there was concern about rodents, snake and other critters. Then, the noise complaints began. Finally, neighbors began to gripe about inexplicitly bad odors coming from the home.

I finally entered the home and found that I’d leased to an unemployed hoarder. Because he paid upfront, I failed to complete a full background check on the tenant and the result was thousands of dollars lost in repairs, professional cleaning services and waste removal charges.

Unexpectedly Good Tenants

One of the best tenants I’ve leased to is a woman in her thirties. She’d recently removed herself from an abusive relationship and she and her two kids were in search of a two bedroom home. She had three evictions on her record, which she explained as having been a result of co-signing with her ex.

Despite the evictions, I leased to this woman. I’ll tell you – she was a dream. Rent was paid on the first of every month and over her three year tenancy she only had two maintenance requests. The yard and home weren’t just maintained, but she actually left the property better than it was when she moved in.

Every splash of paint and every raised garden bed was executed with written permission and she hired a professional cleaning upon moving out. By renting to this woman, we were able to help her re-establish her rental and credit history and she eventually bought a home for herself and her kids.

Vetting Your Tenants

When you’re approving an application, I’d urge you to look beyond the credit score. Check personal references, and chat with your prospect for a few minutes. Talk to your prospect’s previous landlords, and ask if you can call their employer. The “rich” clients aren’t always the best clients. Sometimes it’s the people who need a push in the right direction, or a second chance that become ideal renters.

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