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How to Protect Yourself from Getting a Bad Tenant
As the owner of a lease/rental property, you may or may not sign a lease with your tenant but the best course is definitely to sign a lease! It spells everything out. If you are compelled to go to court for any reason whatsoever, it is best to have it detailed. If you are seeking to enforce it, the court must hold with you because you have a contract (lease) and there is no other consideration. Stationery stores sell prepared lease forms. There are simple computer software programs also available. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.
In recent years, some landlords have written late charges into the agreement if the rent payment is not received on time. Some courts may question your right to levy this. You may want to try this recommendation: Let us say that you want to get a rental amount of $675. Offer the unit at $715. Now, if you are going to advertise it, you can advertise it at $675 and tell the renter, “I must explain that the rental is $715 and my lease will state that amount. I will, however, have the following clause in the lease: Provided that the rental payment is received by 5:00 p.m. on the fifth day of each month the tenant will be granted a discount of $40 with such payment.”
The difference is that you have an agreement for $715. If you have to take him to court, you are seeking $715, not $675. You are not charging a late charge. You are offering a discount, and it will stand up in court because that is the contracted figure. If the prospect balks at this arrangement, thank him for answering your ad and show him the door.
Today with credit checks and social security numbers, you can get an immediate report on a prospect’s record. A word of caution is needed here. If there is no record available on a person well past his early years, he could very well have given a false number. If he claims to have never had credit experience, turn him down. Do not get involved. Checking references is another caution. If the reference is a personal one, he could have given you his friend’s number. What about his previous landlord? He may be anxious to get rid of him so he will not give you any adverse reports.
If you come across anything in the credit check that is adverse, do not think that you can compensate by taking an additional security deposit. When you have bad experience with a tenant, you will find that the wheels of justice grind slowly and your time buffer disintegrates.
Should your lease commence after the first day of the month, calculate the amount for the partial month and have the full amount due on the first of every month thereafter. It is much better for your bookkeeping. The person who tells you that he just moved into town may be telling you the truth. Look at his license plates. Are they from out of state, as he claims? The experienced con artists I have met claimed that they took a job out of state, but then decided against it.
There are so many ways that you can check up. Explore them all before you turn over a key to your property. Make sure that he is who he says he is. Check his license and any other identification. Once you have surrendered the premises to an individual, you are in your weakest position. You can only remove him through due process of law and that can be time consuming.
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