Nightmare tenants are unfortunately all too common. Whether it is paying the rent late or creating a disturbance, some tenants can be difficult to manage. While it is often a relief when a difficult tenant moves out, or is evicted, they often leave behind a mess for the landlord to clean up. Just a few of the more common problems that tenants are often forced to deal with when a difficult tenant moves out includes:
- Trash left behind
- Stained or ripped carpet
- Marker or crayon marks on walls
- Holes in the walls
- Possessions left behind
- Torn linoleum
- Rotten food left in the fridge
- Animal feces
- Stolen fixtures and appliances
Landlords are often left shocked at the way in which some people actually live and the fact that they would leave such a mess behind. As shocking as it may be, it is far too often a common theme. Such problems are particularly frequent among tenants who have a history of paying late and who have finally been evicted for non-payment of rent. Along with losing out on the rent, the landlord is left facing the expenses of cleaning up the property and making necessary repairs and replacements.
What can a landlord do to combat such problems? The best solution to prevent such problems is to ensure that you screen your potential tenants thoroughly. Many times, landlords make the mistake of renting to an applicant without conducting a thorough background check because they do not want a unit to sit vacant. In the end, it is usually better to have a unit vacant for a month and take the time to conduct a thorough tenant screening rather than run the risk of renting to a problem tenant. The costs associated with making repairs and replacing necessary appliances and fixtures can far exceed one month of rent. In fact, the expenses required to clean up the damage left behind from one tenant could threaten a landlord's entire business. Take the time to check references from previous landlords and ask specific questions about the way in which the tenant left the property. Were repairs necessary? Did the tenant clean the unit prior to moving out? Under what terms did the tenant leave? Was he or she evicted?
When you do approve a tenant for occupancy, consider providing a tenant orientation program. This can often help to minimize the potential for damage by ensuring that the tenant understands what is expected in terms of maintaining the property. During the orientation, mutual responsibilities should be discussed, including:
- Lawn maintenance
- Proper use of appliances
- Acceptable activities
- Proper procedure for requesting repairs
Finally, remember not to rely on the security deposit to cover damages. Deposit deductions can create an accounting nightmare and may not be enough to cover damages if they occur. The better option is to focus on helping the tenant understand how to keep the property in good shape and use the deposit as an incentive for the tenant to care for the property.