Accurate Credit Dealing with Problem Tenants

A landlord shared with us the difficulty she is currently experiencing with a tenant who just moved out.  Although she gave him proper notice and a cleaning checklist several weeks in advance, when she tried to hold him accountable for the poor condition of the property when he moved out, the tenant threatened to sue her.

Now, his parents have gotten into the fray, repeatedly emailing the landlord and leaving threatening phone messages.  They say they’ve hired a lawyer and will take her to court.

This landlord is not alone.  Many others have experienced concern that a tenant will find some way to “get even” with them, including calling in building inspectors, law enforcement authorities, or lawyers when the tenant doesn’t have a leg to stand on. These tenants are trying to intimidate the landlord in order to keep a security deposit, live rent-free or otherwise violate the lease agreement.

Landlords don’t have to tolerate harassment, intimidation or threats from tenants.

If a tenant threatens you with legal action, ask to speak with the attorney they claim is representing them.  Get the lawyer’s phone number and give them a call. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to follow the law, and cannot encourage a tenant to pursue a course of action that is not justified. Chances are, the attorney will speak to you more respectfully, making it easier to resolve the problem.  Ask for information from the attorney in writing.

In all likelihood, there is no attorney, and the threat is empty.

In that case, make it clear to the tenant or person harassing you that you will not tolerate any further communications unless in writing.

If the harassment continues, or if at any time you fear for your safety, the safety of others or your property, report the behavior to the police. Keep a record of all communications with the tenant and any one else acting on their behalf.

As a landlord, you hold a serious legal threat of your own –the tenant needs you to give them a reference if they are going to rent again. You can remind them of this fact, but use a non-confrontational manner.

It is not appropriate for the landlord to use idle threats, or profanity, when dealing with problem tenants. If the matter does wind up in court, the judge will look more favorably upon the landlord who remained professional and did not escalate the dispute.

Maintaining a high level of professionalism from the outset if one of the best ways to avoid aggressive tenants.  Tenants respect landlords who lay down the law:

Always require a completed Rental Application. You can download a free one at http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/freerentalapplications.html

Conduct a thorough Tenant Background check http://www.accuratecredit.com  including a credit report, a criminal background check and an eviction report to determine if this applicant has displayed inappropriate behavior in the past. You can order a comprehensive background check that includes those and more http://www.accuratecredit.com

Call the previous landlord to obtain a reference.

Provide specific rules regarding how the property will be kept during the tenancy.

Complete a Move-In Inspection Report with photos or videos of the condition of the property.

End the tenancy with a walk-through and Move-Out Inspection report, with photos or videos of the condition of the property.

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