A Landlord's Worst Nightmare and a Bearded Dragon Named Loretta

My property was trashed. Everything would need to be replaced... new floors, new paint, major repairs everywhere you look. Even random illogical things like wires in the garage were cut for some mysterious reason.

In the backyard was this bearded dragon. This lizard is native to Australia... far, far from where the property was located (Texas). It was extremely weak, hungry and dehydrated. Its jaw was extremely crooked. I don't know if a cat or dog attacked it or if it's some kind of symptom that arose from severe neglect/ malnutrition.

All would be super expensive to fix and get the property back into good shape to be rented out to future tenants.

The tenants (who I later found out were drug dealers) had bailed on the lease and stuck me with $30,000 in damages.

What's worse... this is the third time in a row that a tenant had bailed on the lease early. And I had used a property management company all three times that was supposed to screen out these people! One would think I would have learned from the previous two times but this was literally probably about priority number 1000 on my list. It was supposed to be passive income.

What can we learn from my mistakes?

Sadly just hiring a hiring a property management company that has good reviews isn't enough. You need to micromanage them to some extent.

Make sure that the management company pulls all three of these reports: (1) credit history (2) criminal record and (3) eviction. Many property management companies just take the first person that can come up with the deposit. That's far from enough screening. Ask to see the report. Don't just take their word for it. It could end up costing you five figures.

As for the bearded dragon? We named her Loretta. We nursed her back to health and found her a good home.

A Guide to Navigating Landlord and Tenant Disputes

In an ideal world, the landlord-tenant relationship would be easy and uncomplicated. However, that isn't always the case. Problems can sometimes arise between landlords and tenants. If these problems aren't addressed, they can escalate and become more serious. In order to avoid a serious conflict, it is important to know how to handle landlord-tenant disputes.

Common Problems That Can Arise

Several different types of conflict between a landlord and tenant can arise. The most common problem is maintenance issues. What starts as a simple problem can become an even bigger problem if communication breaks down and things don't get resolved the way they should. Another major problem between landlords and tenants that may arise is unpaid rent or any type of lease violation. When a tenant stops paying rent or causes damage to the property, a landlord could be out quite a bit of money. It is important to be able to remedy this situation before it worsens. Additionally, there can be disputes between tenants and other tenants living on the property. This type of dispute requires that a landlord get involved to mediate the problem before it becomes a larger issue.

Written Communication

While your word used to be your bond, that is not necessarily the case anymore. Because of this, it is important to have written communication for any agreements made by the landlord or the tenant. Additionally, communicating over a phone call does not leave records to track should it become a "he said, she said" situation. Should a dispute arise, it is in the best interest of each party to have written communication and records of interactions. This guarantees acknowledgement between both parties on any and all agreements. Communication is key and written communication between a landlord and tenant is even better.

An Ironclad Lease

A rental lease agreement is extremely important between a landlord and a tenant. This can help solve major disputes before they even begin. For instance, if there is a maintenance issue, the rental lease agreement can help determine who covers what and in what time frame. Additionally, an ironclad lease can help a tenant understand their responsibility regarding rent and other terms put in the lease. When an ironclad lease exists, most tenants will come to realize their role and responsibility in order to keep the peace. Some items that you may want to include in your lease are your policies on pets, noise, lawn mowing, snow removal, occupancy limits, and more. Thoroughly laying out expectations helps avoid problems and issues in the future.

Ask for Help

Should an issue get out of control, it is important to know when to ask for help. There are many things that can be done to reduce the likelihood that you will experience a tenant-landlord dispute, but should you find yourself in this situation, you may need to seek help from an attorney or other experienced professionals who can help you navigate the situation.

Something as simple as running a background check before signing a lease with a tenant can also assist in eliminating problems before they begin. If you would like to make your life as a landlord easier, then Tenant Background Search can help. Contact us today to find out more about our tenant background services.

When to Issue a Cure or Quit Notice

A cure or quit notice can be issued when tenants fail to adhere to specific clauses in the lease. This signifies that a tenant needs to either correct the problem or face potential removal from the property. Knowing when to issue this type of notice is important for the landlord to maintain a proper tenant-landlord relationship and keep their property in good condition. There are a few common reasons that would require this type of notice to be given.

Past Due Rent

One of the top reasons a cure or quit notice may be handed out is because rent is late and past the grace period, if one is given. Usually, a notice will only be given after multiple past due issues. Most landlords won't let continued instances of unpaid rent go on for long as it can become a serious problem and cause them to lose out on income. For this reason, they issue the cure and quit notice and begin looking for other, more dependable tenants.

Breaking a "No Pets Allowed" Rule

Another common reason to issue a cure or quit notice is when a landlord finds out a tenant has broken the "no pets allowed" rule on the property. While some landlords allow pets, not all do. If a property has this rule, it isn't okay to decide to bring home a dog, cat, or any other pet, no matter how cute they may be. If a tenant signed the lease agreement with this rule, they must abide by it. Failure to do so can result in a landlord issuing a cure or quit notice. This means finding a new home for the pet or risking eviction.

Breaking Other Lease Clauses

There are a few other common lease clauses that tenants may choose to ignore. If they do, a landlord is within their right to issue a cure or quit notice to ask the tenant to either stop breaking the rules or find a new rental property. For instance, excessive loud noise is one such time when a tenant can be issued a cure or quit notice, especially if they have been asked repeatedly to lower the volume. Smoking in a non-smoking unit is another example of when a landlord may issue a cure or quit notice, as smoking can cause damage to the carpets, floors, walls, and other parts of the unit that can cost the landlord a significant amount of money in repairs. Allowing any unscreened, unauthorized roommates to live at the rental property would be another reason that a tenant might receive a cure or quit notice. Most landlords require that every adult who lives at the property should have a tenant application and background screening on file.

Tenant Background Search Can Help You Avoid Future Issues

It isn't fun for a landlord to have to deal with issuing cure or quit notices. Having tenants that are respectful and honor the lease agreement is a landlord's dream. Background screening is one way to help landlords find reliable, respectful tenants who abide by lease agreements. If you want help screening tenants, Tenant Background Search is here for all your screening needs. Reach out to find out more information about our services.

3 Tips for Finding Better Renters

Good renters can be hard to come by. You never know who will walk through the door to inquire about available rentals. But in order to keep your properties in good shape, it is important to find the best renters possible. Follow these three tips to help you find reliable renters for your property.

Advertise Strategically

Knowing when and where to advertise is important to attracting the right kind of renters. When starting your search for a new tenant, be sure to think about where you post your ads and who your ads will reach. Instead of using certain websites that may not bring about quality renters, think about using other sites that provide rental information to a wide market of reliable renters. Initially, strategic advertising may require investing a little bit more to put your ads out on more reputable sites, but in the long run, it can pay off. Also, think about asking family, friends, or colleagues for referrals to places to put information that could bring about quality renters.

Complete Screening Documentation

Another good tip for finding better renters is to have potential tenants complete screening documentation that gives you much-needed background information. For example, be sure to complete a background check on any prospective renters, even if they are a friend of yours. A background check can let you know what type of person is requesting to rent from you. It can provide information about whether or not a potential tenant is responsible and trustworthy and can include information such as criminal history, rental history, past eviction history, and current employment. Screening all potential tenants is helpful in that you may be able to avoid a potentially detrimental situation. Another helpful tool for finding the right renters is a credit check. This lets you know if your potential renter is financially stable, reliable, and able to pay their rent each month. A background check and credit check are both great ways to make sure that you are finding renters that are right for your property.

Have a Thorough Application and Lease Agreement

Finally, the third tip for setting a precedent for what types of tenants live in your rentals would be to have a solid application process. This application process can include asking for pertinent information, such as referrals from previous landlords or pay stubs for proof of income. Additionally, a solid lease agreement can also help establish guidelines that will let your renter know exactly what is expected from them as a tenant. Lease agreements can include information such as when the rent is due, any penalties that may accrue for late rent, who to contact in case of maintenance or damage issues, policies for maintaining the property, and much more. For a landlord, a background check, credit check, solid application, and firm lease agreement can all work together to help you find a renter who is as reliable as possible.

If screening a potential tenant feels overwhelming, Tenant Background Search can help. For more information about our services, give us a call today.

Background Checks for Tenant Screening: Best Practices

Tenant screening is a crucial process for landlords and property managers to ensure the safety and security of their rental properties and the well-being of other tenants. One essential component of this process is conducting background checks on potential tenants. To maintain a fair and effective screening process, it is essential to follow best practices when conducting criminal background checks.

Establish a Clear and Consistent Policy

First and foremost, it helps to establish a clear and consistent policy for conducting background checks. This policy should be applied uniformly to all applicants, regardless of their race, gender, age, or any other protected characteristic, to avoid potential discrimination issues. The policy should also comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations that govern tenant screening, which may vary depending on your location. By having a transparent and legally compliant policy, you can minimize the risk of lawsuits and discrimination claims.

Focus on Relevant Information

When conducting tenant screenings and background checks, it's important to focus on relevant information. When it comes to criminal background checks, you want to look for convictions rather than simply arrests or charges, as arrests do not necessarily indicate guilt. Typically, you would be interested in criminal offenses related to violence, drugs, property damage, or fraud, as these can directly affect the safety and security of your property and other tenants. However, you should also consider the nature, severity, and recency of the convictions. For example, a minor traffic violation from several years ago may be less relevant than a recent conviction for theft.

Obtain Proper Consent

Additionally, ensure that you obtain proper consent from the prospective tenant before conducting a background check. Written authorization is generally required, and the tenant must be aware of the purpose and implications of the check. Additionally, follow the guidelines set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act when using a screening company like Landlord Tenant Screening. This includes notifying the applicant if the information in the report leads to any unfavorable action, such as a denial of tenancy, and provides them with an opportunity to dispute any inaccurate information.

Regular Review and Continuous Improvement

To maintain the effectiveness of your tenant screening process, it's essential to engage in regular review and continuous improvement. Your tenant screening policies and procedures should evolve with changing laws and regulations. Periodic reviews of your screening process can help you stay up to date and ensure you are following any new legal requirements.

In conclusion, conducting tenant screenings, including criminal background checks, can be a vital step in maintaining a safe and secure rental property. To do so effectively and ethically, it's essential to establish a clear and consistent policy, focus on relevant information, and adhere to legal requirements and best practices. By following these guidelines, landlords and property managers can make informed decisions that protect their properties and the well-being of their tenants while minimizing the risk of any legal complications.

Pros and Cons of Co-Signers in Tenant Screening

The Role of Co-Signers in Tenant Screening

Co-signers can play a crucial role in tenant screening, offering both advantages and disadvantages for landlords and property managers. A co-signer is an individual who signs the lease agreement alongside the primary tenant, taking on the responsibility of covering rent payments or other financial obligations if the tenant fails to do so. Parents and students, siblings, domestic partners, and roommates are common examples of co-signers. Understanding the pros and cons of co-signers can help landlords make informed decisions when assessing prospective tenants.

Pros of Co-Signers in Tenant Screening

One of the primary benefits of having a co-signer is increased security for landlords. When a tenant has a co-signer with a strong financial background, it reduces the risk of back rent and property damage. This can give landlords greater peace of mind. Co-signers can also be valuable in cases where tenants have limited credit history or income, making them more likely to meet their financial obligations with the additional support of the co-signer.

Cons of Co-Signers in Tenant Screening

However, there are potential drawbacks to relying on co-signers in tenant screening. One major concern is that it may limit the pool of eligible tenants since not everyone has access to someone willing to co-sign for them. This could lead to discrimination or exclusion of otherwise qualified tenants who lack a co-signer. Additionally, co-signers are not a guaranteed solution, as they may also face financial difficulties, making it challenging to collect owed rent if the primary tenant defaults.

When to Consider Co-Signers

When considering co-signers in tenant screening, landlords should weigh the pros and cons and use them judiciously. It's a good idea to consider co-signers when dealing with young or first-time renters who may have limited financial histories but are otherwise promising tenants. Additionally, co-signers can be beneficial in situations where the tenant's income is borderline insufficient to cover the rent or when a roommate arrangement ensures that each tenant is accountable for their share of the rent.

In conclusion, the use of co-signers in tenant screening can be a valuable tool for landlords seeking added security in their rental agreements. Tenant screenings and background checks offer the benefit of reduced financial risk, especially when dealing with tenants who may not have a strong credit history or income. However, landlords should exercise caution and not solely rely on co-signers as a foolproof solution. It's essential to assess each situation individually and consider co-signers when they genuinely enhance the reliability of the tenant without discriminating against potentially qualified renters. Choose Landlord Tenant Screenings for all your background check needs to evaluate future tenants and co-signers.

Tenant Screening for Short-Term Rentals

Unique Challenges and Considerations

Tenant screening for short-term rentals, including those on platforms like Airbnb, can present a distinct set of challenges and considerations for hosts and property managers. Unlike traditional long-term rentals, short-term rentals often result in a higher turnover of guests, making it imperative to ensure the safety and security of the property. Here are some of the unique aspects and challenges of tenant screening when it comes to short-term rentals:

Rapid Turnover

Short-term rentals typically involve a higher frequency of guests compared to long-term leases. Landlords and hosts must be efficient in their screening processes to accommodate quick turnovers, often relying on automated systems and third-party screening services like Landlord Tenant Screening to streamline the vetting of potential tenants. The quick pace of arrivals and departures can also mean that hosts may have a more limited time for thorough background checks, depending on the type of property and length of stay.

Review-Based Systems

Platforms like Airbnb rely heavily on guest and host reviews to establish trust. Hosts may review guests, and guests may review properties, which can offer valuable insights into a guest's behavior and trustworthiness. Hosts should carefully assess these reviews and consider them as part of the screening process since they can offer a personalized and real-time perspective on potential guests. However, it is important to note that review-based systems do not take into consideration the details that a Tenant Background Search would.

Identity Verification

Short-term rentals will typically require guests and renters to provide government-issued identification along with basic background information. Landlords of short-term rentals should ensure that these details match the information provided by renters and take advantage of identity verification tools like Tenant Background Search tools. Verifying guest identities can be a crucial step in minimizing risks associated with short-term rentals.

Security Deposits and Insurance

Some short-term rental websites allow hosts to set security deposits or offer insurance options to protect their property. While these mechanisms do not replace tenant screening, they can provide an extra layer of security for landlords. Hosts should consider setting appropriate security deposit amounts and encouraging guests to purchase insurance coverage, particularly for high-value properties.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Short-term rentals are subject to various legal and regulatory requirements, which may include zoning laws, taxation, and safety standards. Tenants should be aware of and adhere to these regulations to avoid potential legal complications. Screening tenants should also include an understanding of these legal obligations to ensure that potential renters are following local laws.

In conclusion, tenant screening for short-term rentals and online platforms comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. Managing turnover, reliance on review-based systems, identity verification, security deposits, and legal compliance are all key elements in ensuring a safe and secure hosting experience. Property managers and landlords must strike a balance between efficiency and thoroughness in their screening processes to protect their properties and maintain the integrity of their short-term rental business, and Tenant Background Search is here to help.

Credit Checks vs. Background Checks: Which Is Better for Landlords?

Landlords face a crucial decision when it comes to tenant screening: Should they prioritize credit checks or background checks? It's a common dilemma, as both types of checks provide valuable information about prospective tenants. Credit checks reveal an individual's financial history and responsibility, while background checks shed light on their criminal and rental history. But the truth is that neither is more important than the other, as they create a full picture of an applicant that a landlord must understand.

Credit Checks: Assessing Financial Responsibility

Credit checks provide landlords with a glimpse into a potential tenant's financial past and present. Both the score and the factors listed on the report can help a landlord understand things like:

• Financial Responsibility: Credit reports show an applicant's credit history, including their payment history, outstanding debts, and credit utilization. A good credit score suggests financial responsibility, which is a positive indicator for landlords.

• Risk Assessment: By reviewing credit reports, landlords can assess the risk associated with renting to a particular applicant. A low credit score or a history of unpaid debts may raise concerns about the tenant's ability to pay rent consistently.

• Consistency: Credit checks offer standardized data that can be compared easily among applicants. This consistency can help landlords make fair and informed decisions.

However, it's essential to recognize the limitations of relying solely on credit checks. Some applicants may have a limited credit history or a lower credit score due to various factors, such as medical bills or student loans. This could potentially exclude responsible tenants who would otherwise be a great fit.

Background Checks: Ensuring Safety and Rental History

Background checks delve into an applicant's past beyond their financial aspects. They encompass criminal history, eviction history, and rental references. Background checks are valuable as they provide information like:

• Safety: Criminal background checks help landlords ensure the safety of their property and other tenants. Identifying potential red flags, such as violent offenses, can prevent risky tenant placements.

• Rental History: Background checks reveal an applicant's rental history, including any prior evictions or lease violations. This information can be crucial in determining if a tenant is likely to be a reliable and respectful occupant.

• Tenant Behavior: Past rental references can provide insights into an applicant's behavior as a tenant. Landlords can learn about issues like noise complaints or property damage, helping them make an informed choice.

Despite their benefits, background checks alone may not provide a complete picture of an applicant's suitability as a tenant. Some individuals with a clean criminal and rental history may still struggle with financial responsibilities.

Why You Need Both Credit and Background Checks

In the credit checks vs. background checks debate, the answer is not one or the other; it's both. To make well-rounded and informed decisions when selecting tenants, landlords should combine the strengths of both approaches.

A comprehensive screening process that includes both credit and background checks offers a holistic view of a tenant's qualifications. It allows landlords to assess financial responsibility, evaluate rental history, and ensure the safety and well-being of their property. By using both types of checks, landlords can mitigate risks and increase the likelihood of finding reliable and responsible tenants.

At Tenant Background Search, we offer both background and credit checks to ensure that you have all the information you need to rent your property.

How to Spot a Fake Rental Reference

When it comes to ensuring the success of your landlord-tenant relationship, thorough tenant screening is critical. An essential aspect of this process is checking the rental references provided by applicants. Unfortunately, not all references are genuine, and some individuals may attempt to deceive landlords with fake references. Below are some tricks to catching these fake references that landlords should always keep in mind before moving forward with a tenant.

Verify Contact Information and Details

The initial step in determining the authenticity of a rental reference is to carefully verify the contact information and details provided by the applicant. Pay close attention to elements such as contact information, property details, and dates of tenancy.

Start by confirming the accuracy of the phone number and email address provided for the previous landlord. Make sure they are valid and align with the contact information listed on the rental application. Fake references often supply incorrect or disconnected contact details.

Additionally, scrutinize the property details mentioned in the reference, ensuring they match the information provided in the applicant's rental history. Inconsistencies or vague descriptions may raise suspicions of a fake reference. Lastly, cross-check the dates of the applicant's tenancy with the reference. If the reference cannot provide specific dates or offers conflicting information, it could indicate a fake reference.

Speak with the Previous Landlord

One of the most effective ways to ascertain the validity of a rental reference is to engage in direct communication with the previous landlord. During this conversation, it's crucial to ask detailed questions, listen to the reference's tone and knowledge, and verify their identity.

Ask specific questions about the applicant's tenancy, including their rent payment history, any instances of lease violations, and the condition of the property upon move-out. Genuine landlords will be able to provide precise details regarding these aspects. Pay attention to the tone and knowledge displayed by the reference. A legitimate landlord should possess a good understanding of the tenant's history and can offer specific information about their time as a tenant.

Also, ensure you verify the identity of the person you are speaking with. Ask for their name, the property's address, and their relationship to the applicant. Be cautious if the reference hesitates or provides inconsistent information, as these could be indicators of a fake reference.

Search for an Online Presence

In today's digital age, many individuals and businesses leave a digital footprint. To further validate a rental reference, consider conducting a brief online search.

Start by checking if the reference or the property management company has a presence on social media platforms. This can provide additional confirmation of their identity and legitimacy. Additionally, explore online reviews and listings for the property management company or landlord. Legitimate references often have an online reputation that you can find quickly.

Finally, consult online directories or property management databases to see if the reference or the property management company is listed. These sources can be valuable in verifying their existence and credibility.

Spotting a fake rental reference requires a meticulous and detail-oriented approach. By verifying contact information, engaging in meaningful conversations with previous landlords, and conducting online research, landlords can significantly reduce the risk of being deceived by deceptive rental references. It's essential to remember that comprehensive tenant screening, which includes multiple checks such as credit and background checks from Tenant Background Search, remains a fundamental practice in selecting reliable and responsible tenants for your property.

Common Cases of Tenant Fraud and How to Avoid Them

Today, the rental property industry seems to be making a move towards a more fully online process. There are virtual walkthroughs for tenants to view properties and online applications to move forward in the rental process. While the ease of completing everything online is a convenience, it can also be harder to spot fraud. Instances of fraud in the rental industry are on the rise. To avoid being taken advantage of, be aware of these top cases of tenant fraud.

Synthetic Fraud

If someone has failed a background check before, they may be hesitant to use correct information for fear of failing again. With synthetic fraud, an applicant instead uses all false information to fill in the application process. Nothing used is actually correct or valid information. Instead, the application is pieced together with both stolen and fabricated information. For example, the potential renter could be using the social security number of a person that is deceased instead of their own. Hopefully, thorough background checks in place during the application process will alert rental property owners to this issue so that it can be addressed before a property is rented out to someone it shouldn't be.

Identity Manipulation Fraud

Similar to Synthetic Fraud, identity manipulation fraud doesn't use accurate information. However, in this instance, information on the application is only slightly changed and not completely falsified. This could be something as simple as putting down a different birthday or changing just one number in their social security number. The majority of the information is correct, but just a few numbers here or there are changed slightly to manipulate the complete identity of a potential renter.

First-Person Fraud

Not everyone who applies for a rental property under their name is going to be accepted, and if they have filled out applications and been rejected before, they know this. To avoid this problem, as a workaround, some may fill in the application with the name of a family member or friend instead of themselves. The information may all be correct and the application may pass all background checks, but the person who submitted the application is not the person that intends to live at the actual address of the rental property.

Third-Party Fraud

Third-party fraud is when someone attempts to steal another person's identity and use that information on a rental application. If you are familiar with identity theft, then you understand third-party fraud. The person putting down the information on an application has no relationship with the name and information of the person they used to actually fill out the application. This case of fraud is potentially damaging to many, specifically the person whose identity was stolen.

Fraud of any kind can be frustrating for rental property owners or managers. It is important to do a complete background check into potential tenants to make sure there are no suspected cases of fraud. Tenant Background Search can help with this process. We have safety measures in place to help prevent instances of tenant fraud. Contact us today to find more information about our services.

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