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Getting the Right Tenant and Avoiding the Wrong One

The Perfect Tenant Is Out There
 
The dream renter: clean, quiet, and on time with the rent. Not super-human, just responsible. But how do you ensure you get such a creature? Here are a few tricks of the trade.
 
If you"re a first time manager of a small property, and you are panic-stricken by the Bad Tenant Horror Stories you have no doubt heard, show up at the would-be tenant"s current rental before offering a lease. A picture is worth a thousand words ... you"ll know at a glance if this person lives like a semi-sanitary soul, or if unfortunately, he or she is the proud owner of an eight-foot boa constrictor that feeds on live piglets (yes, this actually happened). 
 
A quick phone call to the potential renter"s employer is in order. This will assist in weeding out the irresponsible and unprincipled tenants. Take the time to call their former landlord. Find out if the person listed is really their prior landlord, and not their relative, by doing a search engine check with their name. (Yep, someone actually listed his sister and his sister"s cell phone number, and had her pose as Landlord Lady, who couldn"t say enough about how wonderful he was.)
 
The credit history gives indisputable information about the tenant"s sense of fiscal responsibility. Because past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, you can save an avalanche of trouble by scoping out a poor credit score. The same goes with their criminal history and what their sense of moral responsibility is; protect yourself and your other renters by weeding out the dangerous and seedy criminals. A Minor in Possession offense 15 years ago is one thing; a recent Receiving and Concealing Stolen Goods conviction or Assault and Battery history is a whole other beast.
 
Courting Disaster
 
These steps should keep you from having to go through with the hassle of an eviction. In Orlando, Florida, for example, the eviction process is a time-consuming Court procedure. The property manager cannot just throw the tenant out. Only a Judge can sign an eviction order, and only the police can enforce the order. Florida law does not allow the landlord to attempt to push the renter out by having the utilities shut off or changing the locks. Do your homework upfront, and avoid the ugly Court process.

By Adam Herschkowitz
Get Property Management Jobs, Contributing Editor

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