Let's stop the problem before it happens. How do we do that as a landlord ?
Don't make a decision to rent the property to somebody based on your first impression of the person !
DON"T DO IT !
If your renting, before you let them move into the house or the apartment:
1. Do a credit check .
2. Have the tenant fill out an application form that meets your needs and check out the tenants answers as thouroughly as possible.
3. Make sure you check out their references and take a firm stand about doing so. Under normal circumstances, the tenant will only provide you with references that they believe will satisfy the needs of the application, but as a landlord you need to remain vigilant and do some checking on your own to determine if these references are reliable, and if they have the potential to cross paths with references that aren't.
4. Have the tenant give you a check on the front end and not cash, and the reason why is because the check should indicate where the tenant currently lives, and might even include the telephone number or other information that will allow you to investigate their application for the lease. The check could also serve as an indicator of their stability. Beware if they want to give you cash !!!
5. Make sure that you get the required deposit with the application. And get a check, as suggested in the last paragraph.
6. Make sure that the applicant fills out the employment verification section of the application for lease or tenancy and make sure that you check with their employer to verify the information.
7. Check with the previous landlord to see if the tenant-applicant made their previous payments on time on the previous rental property. The prior rental history is a good indicator of what you might be up against with this applicant. Watch out for a slimy previous landlord that might give a lousy tenant a great reference to you just to get rid of that tenant and pass their bad fortune off on you. There are definitely some shady landlords out there. Don't be one of them, or get slimed by one.
8. Make sure that you insist that the rent is always, always paid on time. No excuses ! Be tough about and you should have a reliable tenant.
9. Make sure that the lease your using has nails in it, a grip, some bite, etc, because you have time on your side. You could also exercise a month to month agreement in the case of aa applicant that might have some gray areas. You might even include language that allows you to raise the rent with a month to month agreement that will also let you raise the rent anytime within a thirty day period.
10. Make sure that you inspect the property before you allow the tenant to move in and ask the tenant to sign a form that represents the current condition of the house or apartment. Repeat the process when they move and you'll have two documents to compare in case the security deposit becomes an issue or you have to make claims for damages.
I hope you can use some of these ideas.
Feel free to chime in below if you have anything to add.