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Avoiding tenants from hell

Avoiding tenants from hell

Landlords have been sharing some of their tenant horror stories online, and they are a cautionary tale for those looking to rent out their property.

There are bad tenants and then there are REALLY bad tenants. Most landlords are able to relate stories of at least one tenant who has damaged the property or who stopped paying rent but, judging by a survey conducted by Reddit in which subscribers were asked to submit their tenant horror stories, the majority of those who lease out property get off lightly.

Some of the acts reportedly committed by tenants beggar belief and sometimes the damage is not only deliberate, but costs the landlord hundreds of thousands of rands to repair. Others are just plain disgusting and generally refer to the mess left behind when the tenant moved out.

One of the more extreme examples involves one tenant who apparently poured cement down the drain. The owner ended up cutting his losses, demolishing the dwelling and rebuilding from scratch. That however wasn’t the end of his problems - he was sued by the city, because the concrete infiltrated the septic system and damaged the infrastructure.

One of the more outlandish claims was about a tenant (apparently a carpenter by profession) who had made holes in the dry wall and inserted fish into the space before resealing the area. The owners couldn't find the source of the stench and had the home repainted, and then professionally cleaned on several occasions before they figured out that something was decomposing in the walls.

Yet another landlord complained that his tenant completed gutted the home, including removing the kitchen cabinets which were sold within the first three months of the tenant moving in. The tenant had knocked down all the interior walls, removed all the ceiling fans and the bathroom sink as well as all the copper piping in the home.

The more disgusting narratives involve faeces being smeared all over the walls, a dead cat in the hot water system, dirty dishes that had been left to moulder for three months, a bath full of cat faeces and a missing toilet.

Other stories were more personal and included one about the tenants reporting the landlord to social services for being ‘bad parents’ in an attempt to muddy the waters. One landlord who approached his tenant for the outstanding rent was attacked and lost an eye.

The list goes on and on and the complaints involve a wide range of tenants, from those who were down on their luck to seemingly perfectly respectable families.

Allowing someone you have just met to move into your property without conducting thorough background checks isn't only highly irresponsible, it's a decision that could end up costing you thousands.

Tenants who are aware that their reputations have been blackened by their previous behaviour are unlikely to try and find a property through a rental agency. This is because they know that their history as a tenant as well as their credit profiles will be checked. While it isn't necessary to use an agent to rent out your property, this doesn't mean that you as a landlord should forgo any of the checks and should not only ask for references from previous landlords, but should also contact the parties concerned directly. It needs to be remembered that some landlords are so desperate to get rid of problem tenants that they will say anything in order to get them to move on. To help counter this, prospective landlords should contact a number of previous landlords in order to get a clear picture of the tenant’s behaviour.

Landlords will need to be objective however as there is always a risk that the previous landlord may be unreasonable with their complaints. Fair wear and tear will always feature in any lease agreement and just because the previous landlord had to repaint the premises after the tenant had lived there for five years does not make the tenant a bad choice. Try to get the full story and avoid offering the tenancy to anyone who has actually destroyed a property or removed fixtures from a home.

Inspect the property on a regular basis and address any concerns with the tenant as soon as they become apparent. If the damage to the home is extreme and the lease still has months to run, consider hiring an attorney in order to start eviction proceedings. Yes, it may cost you money, but could save you thousands in repair bills in the long run.

Article from privateproperty