Difficult Tenants? Here’s how to avoid it
Getting rid of a bad tenant can be time-consuming and costly, but doing thorough background checks on all prospective renters can help ensure that you never have to do it.
An Alberta landlord is at her wit’s end, claiming that a tenant has somehow turned her home into a foreign embassy, which permits him to do whatever he wants on her property.
As reported by The Canadian Press, a tenant named Andreas Pirelli rented a Calgary duplex owned by Rebekah Caverhill, who herself lives a town west of Red Deer, Alta. According to Caverhill, Pirelli proceeded to gut the home without permission and when she discovered this she says he advised her he was a “Freemen-on-the-Land,” the duplex was now an embassy and she had no further rights to it.
I remember the old joke about a fellow telling his friend that he just sold his home. Asked if he was pleased with the price he got, he said, “Yes, but the landlord wasn’t too happy” — the point being that you can’t sell what you don’t own.
If Caverhill’s description of her situation is correct, she can exercise her rights as a landlord to evict Pirelli from the property and sue him for damages. Even if she eventually wins the case in court, it will likely cost her thousands of dollars in legal fees to do so.
Such incidents can often be avoided if the landlord does proper background, reference and credit checks before renting the home to someone in the first place. Here are some tips to follow when renting out your own home to make sure that you properly qualify your tenants in advance so this does not happen to you.
- When you advertise for a tenant, make it clear that you do background and credit checks.
- Ask any tenant to complete a detailed rental application, showing every place they have lived at least in the past five years.
- Ask for a current cheque stub from their place of employment as proof they are regularly employed.
- Ask for at least three personal references and call each one, including any previous landlord.
- Interview the tenant at his or her current residence to see for yourself how they treat someone else’s property.
- Try to interview the tenant in person and make note if they are vague or evasive with their answers or try and change the subject.
- Check out the tenant on social media, whether it is pictures that they post or blogs that they may have written. For example, if you search Andreas Pirelli on LinkedIn, you will see that he gives his title as “Senior Chief Justice” at something called the “Tacit Supreme in Law Court.”
- Have the property regularly inspected to ensure the tenant is properly maintaining the property and not causing any damage.
- Treat your tenants with ongoing respect, and they will look after your property better. Consider a gift card or a Christmas present if rent is always paid on time.
If despite all precautions you find yourself with a tenant who is causing any damage or making ridiculous claims against you, get assistance from an experienced landlord and tenant paralegal and start legal proceedings quickly.
The good news is that the vast majority of tenants take good care of landlord properties. Be prepared before you rent out your home so that this does not happen to you.
By: Mark Weisleder