Three Easy Steps to a Bad Tenant
by Robert L. Cain May 1, 2007
It is easy to rent to a bad tenant. That is partly because bad tenants make it easy and partly because of what landlords do and don’t do.
You know who they are: they don’t pay rent; they bother or even terrorize neighbors; and they keep their “home” so it looks like a pig sty (with apologies to pigs).
Here we will look at three things landlords do and don’t do that allow bad tenants to slither into their properties.
Step One: Let your property look like a slum
Bad tenants are attracted to properties that fit their self-image. These are properties that could use considerable upkeep and repair.
Landlords of slum-looking properties emanate the message that they don’t care. They don’t care about their investment, and by parity of reasoning, don’t care who lives in their properties.
It could just be that since the landlord has had so many bad tenants over the years, he or she hasn’t been able to maintain the property with little or no rent coming in. It could also be a result of rent control, which has not allowed the landlord to raise the rent sufficiently to keep up with maintenance.
Regardless of the reason, a seedy-looking property attracts applicants who resemble it.
But there’s more. Bad tenants will move into a property that needs work, because they are “able and eager” to finish all that work that will get the property ready to rent. Of course, they will never do any of that work and will decide after a few months that they shouldn’t have to pay any rent for a “dump like this.” They will tell the judge at eviction court that you never fixed all that stuff you “promised to fix” and even have the pictures to prove it.
Step Two: Decide to rent while you are listening to them
These folks are so pitiful that, and have such hard luck stories it is enough to make the most stony-hearted property manager’s heart bleed. They have a knack for going to work for the most unreasonable, rotten, cruel, mean, obnoxious bosses on earth, and for companies who are about to lay people off.
They also have a knack for getting into accidents and getting sick, which runs up big doctor bills that they have to pay so they can’t pay the rent. And those unreasonable, rotten, cruel, mean, obnoxious landlords they always rent from get mad when they don’t pay the rent and evict them. “You’re not like that, are you?”
Once you’ve been sucked into their universe of bad luck it rubs off on you. They don’t pay any rent to you, either. And by golly, do they have some great excuses. They’ll take this new set of stories to the next landlord, after you evict them.
The stories they have cooked up are sometimes true works of art. They are so imaginative and practiced that they can have you actually believing that none of these terrible things that happened to them were their fault at all.
Step Three: Be Desperate
All reason goes out the window when all you can think about is where the mortgage payment is going to come from this month. If you only had a tenant, the mortgage would be paid.
When the sob story, or the applicant who “has to find a place to live today” (and has money) shows up, you can see yourself writing the mortgage check. “Phew, that was close,” you say to yourself, “I almost had to take it out of my pocket.”
Yes, it’s easy to rent to a bad tenant if you follow those three easy steps. Let your property go to seed, get sucked into their dark, down-spiraling world, and believe that any tenant is better than no tenant.
Reprinted by Permission. Copyright 2007 Cain Publications, Inc. Robert Cain is a nationally-recognized speaker and writer on property management and real estate issues. For a free of the Rental Property Reporter call 800-654-5456 or visit www.rentalprop.com.