A thorough vetting process is one of the greatest means at our disposal as property owners and property managers in Boynton Beach to avoid bad renters. Thanks to the Internet and other technologies, we have more information at our disposal than ever before, and we can access that information quickly and at nominal costs. While such an extensive tenant history can be a great resource, it also provides a lot of potential for misuse. With that in mind, let’s discuss what your expectations should be and how you should use that information.
Don’t Expect a Perfect History
For starters, don’t expect a perfect tenant history. In fact, if someone has leased many years rather than own — which is a perfectly valid approach financially — a blemish here or there is to be expected. Inexperienced landlords will often take the counterproductive approach of seeking out that perfect history, but in doing so, you’re potentially eliminating a lot of great tenants. A better way is to take the approach that a property management company in Boynton Beach is likely to take: define specifically what isn’t acceptable and specifically look for those items.
Use References Too
Another mistake that inexperienced landlords make is not using all of the resources at their disposal. A tenant history might provide a lot of details — or not many at all — but references can provide a human context to the information — or lack of information — that’s available. Request references, and follow through on them. Make sure those references are for landlords. You can use employment and character references in addition to, but they shouldn’t be used in place of.
Rental Payment History
Rental payment history is a focal point for almost every property management company in Boynton Beach and for good reason. Tenants that have demonstrated a history of late and non-payments are going to be more trouble that they’re worth. What you should look for is a pattern of missing or non-payments. Also, watch for any time a landlord choose to write off a missing payment. In may not have ended up in court, but it just means the landlord deemed it not worth his or her time or money. You probably shouldn’t be too harsh on just one or two late payments since we all make mistakes.
Complaints from Neighboring Tenants
Complaint records are another area where modern tenant histories have proved incredibly useful. In the past, many complaints would go unrecorded because the landlord had no means to record them or police involvement didn’t result in a citation. With the online resources we have now, not only can landlords record complaints but the neighbors themselves can as well. Any property management professional will warn you to be very wary of these complaints because the damage from a tenant like this can extend far beyond that single residence.
Property Damage and Security Deposits
Property damage is a great concern for anyone working in property management. Upkeep is one of our greatest costs, and unnecessary repairs can make a hard job that much more difficult. It’s the reason we work so hard to vet tenants and why we take advantage of our right to a security deposit. When screening histories, pay particular attention to tenants who’ve caused significant damage. Even a tenant who’s done that once is a risk probably best avoided.
Pay Careful Attention to Evictions
Evictions should never be tolerated unless there are extenuating circumstances. Evictions require a great amount of effort. If someone were evicted, it means that the property owner wanted them gone so bad that they were willing to go through that effort. Evictions are often costly measures, and even though they may make financial sense in the long-term, they’re always losses in the short-term. If you accept a tenant that’s been evicted, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of trouble.
Be Mindful of Any Lawsuits
If a prospective tenant has previously been involved in a lawsuit with a landlord, pay careful attention. If that person sued a landlord, then they may be willing to do the same to you. If that person was sued by a landlord, then they likely left that property owner no other choice. Certainly, judge these on a case-by-case basis, but always dig a little deeper to uncover the truth.
No Credit and Bad Credit
Many property managers in Boynton Beach require credit histories as part of tenant histories. People that handle their money well are likely to pay on time and handle other aspects of their lives well. Most tenants won’t have perfect credit histories, however. To make a decision, note how a person has been operating in the last several years rather than over a longer period. When it comes to no credit, judge each young person on their own merits and consider requesting a parent to co-sign the lease.
Criminal records should always be reviewed when available and when legal to do so. Recent infractions demonstrate poor decision-making that likely makes the person a bad tenant. When it comes to older infractions, it depends on what those infractions are. A good way to look at this is to consider how your other tenants would feel if they found out about it.
Ask the Prospective Tenant to Contest or Explain the History
There will be times when a negative rental history will be so extensive that you simply eliminate that person as an option. Most of the time, however, it won’t be so cut and dry. A great way to ease your mind and make a decision is to give the applicant a chance to tell their side of the story. In some cases, prospective tenants are working to clear unfair histories, and they may even broach the subject with you before you have a chance to ask. Give people a chance to explain and be honest with you, and you may just be satisfied with the answer. People make mistakes but also learn from them and mature.