Don’t be blinded by a beautiful face
Don’t be blinded by a beautiful face
June Harrison: a case study of the Tenant from Hell
As a new landlord renting property for the first time, I was unsure of what to expect from prospective tenants. After meeting with and declining two questionable characters, I was introduced to June Harrison*. June said that she was looking to rent an apartment for herself, her two children and her husband, who she explained, was a successful businessman and away most of the time.
June seemed nice, respectable and responsible – almost too good to be true. Her references had nothing but positive things to say about her and she was well dressed and presentable, which led me to believe that she was financially stable. I went with my gut instinct, and after collecting first and last I handed June the keys to my beautiful five bedroom property.
A month went by without a word from my new tenant. Late on her second rent payment, I decided to give June the benefit of the doubt until I was made aware of a problem with the property by a neighbour, who called merely six weeks after I handed the keys over. The neighbour informed me that the traffic in and out of the house was constant, the noise levels were outrageous and that there was an ever-growing mound of garbage at the side of the house. This did not sound like the responsible, family-oriented June that I had met.
I decided to pay a visit to the property and I was shocked and appalled at my findings. June was not living in the house herself, but had put locks on all of the internal doors and was subletting the bedrooms; there were nearly fifteen subtenants packed into the house. Aside from having no regard for the property or the neighbours, these tenants were paying their rent directly to June, who had yet to pay me a cent besides first and last.
I began the long process of evicting June, which cost me thousands of dollars in rent and legal fees, not to mention a four month headache. When I finally regained possession of the house it was far from where I had left it – the bathrooms were disgusting, the garbage pile rotting, and there is a foul smell that still lingers to this day.
Looking back, I had made the biggest mistake a landlord can make – taking a person at face value and believing what they say. Had I screened this tenant, I would have been aware not only of June’s poor credit history, but of the fact that June is a repeat offender. Somebody else had already experienced this nightmare.
My best advice is to always perform credit and criminal background checks to avoid nightmare tenants like June.
Five tips to avoid Tenants from Hell
Verify employment Ask for and check employment references from potential tenant
Verify income If the potential tenant does not have employment documentation, ask for bank records to ensure they have enough money to pay their rent
Perform criminal background check Ask the police in your area about the requirements for doing a background check on a potential tenant.
Perform credit check Reputable credit check agencies can get you answers on whether or not your potential tenant has a good history of paying their bills on time
Check references Who would know better than a previous landlord if your potential tenant is a good fit? Check references from previous landlords.
*The above story is a fictionalized combination of many ‘tenant from hell’ stories that landlords have shared, and names have been altered. We can only say that June Harrison is still at large, and her guilt is to be decided by a trial of her peers and you – the reader, Landlord, and Property Manager alike.”
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