Ways to Avoid a Nightmare Tenant

by : Sean Wheller

While trying to qualify the best tenants, under the stress of having to pay a mortgage bond every month, a lot of small issues of high importance can be overlooked.

Often unscrupulous tenants take advantage of situations. Some are very good at doing this, and you must know what to watch out for.

The next 11 points are taken from real life experience of investors.

They had to face these situations, more than once. In each case they had to make clear-headed decisions, on the spot, without risking their investment or turning away good tenants due to excessive worry and stress.

1.Identify the Potential Tenant on the First Call

When talking to a potential tenant on the first telephonic interaction, ensure that you ask all the necessary details that identify the person. Their full name, telephone number and maybe email address. If you can't call them back or the email is not valid and bouncing, the red light should go on already. Furthermore, it will also help you identify if the full name, initially given, if it is the same name written in the ID book.

Some people walk around with many identities and false IDs, for reasons that you do NOT ever want to find out. Double identities have been found in two ID books, for example a representation of one married name and one unmarried has been also encountered. You don't want to rent your property, which is one of your biggest assets, to anyone that can't be identified and verified to be the legitimate identity of the person. If a person is hesitant about their marital status, can't decide if they are married or not, it would be very wise to reject their application.

If you can't identify and verify the person, you should immediately reject the application.

2.I Need the Keys by Tomorrow!

This is a very known exercise to get occupation of a property without the proper process and checks.
Be aware of the last hour, immediate occupation requests. Some investors have been faced with a situation where a potential tenant calls to rent a property in the condition that they must take occupation within the next day or two, sometimes even the same day. Often they say that the deposit is not a problem they have cash with them, and will pay in cash as long as they get the flat the same day or next day. The excuses are usually that they lived with family and had a fight, came over from another city and have nowhere to stay for some reason or another, and so on. The reasons are not important, the situation you are faced with is.

If this is the case, you will be stressed to fit in all the required procedures quickly. You will have only a couple of hours to do ITC and TPN checks, get the copies of IDs of tenants and the pay slips for proof of income and sign on lease agreements and give them the keys, all in a couple of hours. Though stressed, it can be done and it has been done successfully.

But in cases where the tenant is not a good one and is just trying to get the property, they will trip you in these couple of hours. They will tell you that this is urgent and don't have the ID with them, that their pay slips are at work and many other excuses. If you are furthermore stressed to pay the bond at the end of the month and they show you the cash, you can make some big mistakes in these couple of hours. Such as: don't complete your process, don't call a reference, don't have time to verify information on the application forms, and then you can end up with a non-paying tenant and worse a squatter.

In this case, take your time, do everything with a clear mind, even if you do give them the keys to the property in 24 hours or less, ensure that in those 24 hours you have done all the necessary checks, without leaving anything out.

Ensure that, they filled in correctly and fully the Tenant Application Form, you checked references, did ITC and TPN checks, and that you received copies of IDs of ALL occupants and proof of income, and that you signed them on the lease agreement.

The main things you should never leave out of the process, is the references, check place of work, identification and pay slips. If you do encounter a bad tenant, funny enough they won't mind signing the lease agreement immediately, often without even reading it, or the patience for you to explain it to them. All they care about is that you do not find out too much about them. If they intend to be bad tenants, lease agreement or not, they won't mind either way, but to put you at ease, they will be very willing to sign anything. Investors are often fooled by a willing tenant that only wants to do sign the lease agreement and give you the money. That does not mean that he also wants obey the lease agreement, just because he is so willing to sign it.

If you encounter honest tenants in distress for some real reasons, they will do everything possible to provide you with all the necessary documentation quickly and help you do anything necessary to complete the process correctly.
If you can't complete the full process in the required time, you need to make a harsh decision: either take the risk that you could be entertaining squatters, or just tell them they either give you time to complete the process of you move on to the next potential tenant that has the time.

Even if you won't find another tenant as fast and you will end up paying the shortfall that month, it would be far cheaper than ending up with bad tenants and evictions costs.
Remember, you have no obligation to play the good Samaritan.

In the next part we will be discussing what to do with missing information in application forms, references and your tenants employment or lack thereof.