Dear Landlord Hank: I Have A Problem Tenant
Each week veteran landlord and property manager Hank Rossi answers questions from other landlords and property managers around the country about their rentals.
Dear Landlord Hank,
I have a problem tenant I inherited when I bought the property.
I’ve asked them to move and they have found a place to move to.
The new landlord is asking for a reference. I really want this tenant out of my property and I’m ready to say whatever it takes so they move.
I’m torn here.
Dear Landlord Gary,
Before you release any information make sure you are provided with an authorization and release form signed by the tenant.
This is normal “boiler plate” at the bottom of a rental application.
Then answer all questions truthfully.
If tenant has a poor payment history, or other issues, be up front.
If you suspect drugs, but have no proof, you should not disclose this.
On my Request For Rental Verification Form, the last question I ask is, “Would you re-rent to this individual?”
This one says it all.
Anyway, don’t give a bad tenant a good reference.
It is simply the wrong thing to do.
You wouldn’t want it done to you.
Calling the previous landlord about a problem tenant
So if you decide that you, as the landlord, will verify residential/employment history, here is what you do next:
Your first phone call should be to the current landlord. If it starts with someone answering the phone “Hello,” then questions immediately arise in your mind as to who is answering this phone as it does not sound like a professional landlord. Is it really a landlord or owner of a rental property and this is their only rental? Or, is this the applicant’s best friend or relative?
When this has happened to me, I tell them my name and say the applicant is using them as a reference and how does this person know that applicant?
I don’t tell them applicant is looking to rent from me, etc.
Sometimes I hear that the applicant is this “landlord’s” (again, is it really a landlord?) relative or friend and they are staying with them or other times the person answering the phone says that applicant used to, or still does, rent from them.
What to ask when you get on the phone with previous landlord
At this point, I ask if they would be willing to answer some questions concerning the applicant. Sometimes I must send the prospective tenant’s signed application which contains authorization for release of information.
The questions I want answered are:
- Rent amount paid to this landlord
- Term of occupancy
- Payment history
- Notice of termination of lease given (usually 30-60 days)
- Any damage to property
- Any unauthorized guests or pets
- Eligibility for renting to this person again
- Anything else this landlord thinks I should know?
About the author Landlord Hank:
“I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc , in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta. “ Visit Hank’s website here.