Would-be Tenants From Hades

Posted on November 11, 2014 by

Landlords, what’s the best way to deal with tenants who are a pain in the tail and make you want to vomit? Easy answer: Never let them in your rental property in the first place. And how do you accomplish this feat? Read on, my friend – it’s actually pretty simple! But first, a story…

Several weeks back, we had a property go vacant in Cartersville, Georgia. It’s a nice three-bedroom, two-bath home with a two-car garage. Though a good number of applications came in, one stood out above the rest.

The application was neat and complete. The prospects were from Cartersville, so they have a lot of ties to the community. The husband was an experienced contractor who knew how to fix things. The wife was disabled and received a guaranteed monthly government check. They didn’t have any kids or pets and didn’t smoke. They were looking for a place they could live in for the rest of their lives. Looking at the application, there was nothing not to like about these folks!

Because Kim and I have been managing rental property for almost 20 years, we have learned that no matter how good tenants look on paper, there are a couple of steps we must take before letting them move into our property.

First, we called the applicants to verify their information, to see if they had the money needed to pay the security deposit and first month’s rent, and to see when, if accepted, they could move in. With these folks, their information checked out, they had the money and wanted to move in immediately.

Second, I called their references. Each person I talked to said nice things about the couple.

This is, for most landlords, where the verification process ends. And since the verification process ends here, it’s where most landlord-tenant horror stories begin!

There’s a critical third step mom and pop landlords should take – but few do. I call it the surprise in-home inspection. Doing this last, seldom-taken step is the reason Kim and I have never had a house destroyed. Remember: The way the current tenants’ home looks inside and out, is exactly how they’ll have your investment property looking one week after moving in!

Let’s go back to these perfect prospective tenants. I asked if I could contact them that evening between 6 and 7 p.m. if I had any additional questions. They agreed. At 6:15 p.m., I knocked on their door. Remember, I said “contact,” not “call,” and to me, “contact” means talking to them face-to-face!

They invited me in. Although the yard was overgrown, the inside couldn’t have been cleaner. Sure enough, they had no kids, no pets, and they didn’t smoke. Perfect, right?

Not so fast! In talking to the couple I learned two things that were not listed on the application. First, the woman explained that she received disability income because she is suicidal, homicidal, manic-depressive, schizophrenic, and has OCD. She also revealed that her husband had been arrested for beating her!

Landlords, after learning these two things, would you keep this couple at the top of your prospect list, or would you choose another family for this home?

To be a successful landlord, it’s vital that you do surprise in-home inspections before picking a tenant!

Bill & Kim CookBill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.

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