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parked on the lawn, and the house or apartment in shambles, and a bunch of ne’er do wells hanging out on the porch, picture that activity continuing in your property. If the prospective resident’s current household includes dogs, cats, and distant relatives, they will most likely join your prospect when he moves into your nice, freshly painted, and well-kept apartment! Do not be shy about the surprise visit, the good prospect might be a bit startled, but will welcome the visit.
Walk the applicant out to their car after he drops off the application. The make or model is not as important as the condition and contents of the interior. If you see a filthy beater dripping oil, with a registration sticker from the 1990’s then be careful. Likewise, if you see clothes and bags filling the back seat, you just might have found where this character is currently living!
Trust your instincts. Use common sense when reviewing the information provided and screening the applicant. Do not rush! Do not let the applicant force you to decide until you have completed your screening process. Rent to the best and most qualified applicant, not necessarily the first to apply. Contrary to what the tenants’ rights folks would lead you to believe, you do not have to rent to the first applicant who happens to squeak by you want the best and most qualified. Sometimes you must accept three or four, or even ten or more applications before you know just who is the best and most qualified. Your own threshold of pain, and business sense, will tell you when enough is enough.
There are a few important issues to be aware of. Be careful when answering telephone calls from prospective tenants responding to your listing or advertisement. Do not attempt to pre-screen the applicant over the phone. Provide objective
information about the unit, provide your general rental criteria as stated above, and encourage all to visit the property and submit a written application. You never know if the person on the other end of the phone is really a tenant prospect,, or rather a fair housing imposter posing as a prospect trying to trick you into a violation of fair housing law! Sounds crazy, but it can happen, fair housing employs hundreds of people that literally sit at desks perusing the published listings for potential fair housing violations. These folks will then telephone the unsuspecting landlord, misrepresent themselves as something they are not, to trick the unsuspecting landlord into saying the ‘wrong’ thing. Gotcha.
It is better to have a vacant unit than to rent to a dead beat that will cause you nothing but headaches until the day he is evicted. The truly bad tenant will continue to haunt you by filing frivolous lawsuits both during and after the Sheriff shows him the door. The damage and destruction that can be levied by the ne’er do well scam artist can be extensive. Proper tenant screening at the beginning will effectively weed out these dead beats who intend on doing you harm.
Be sure to establish reasonable rental criteria, thoroughly verify all information provided, apply tenancy criteria consistently to all, know and follow all fair housing rules, trust your instincts, and use your common sense! Accept the best applicant, not necessarily the first to apply!
This article is presented in a general nature to address typical landlord tenant legal issues. Specific inquiries regarding a specific situation should be addressed to your attorney. Stephen C. Duringer is the founder of The Duringer Law Group, PLC, one of the largest and most experienced landlord tenant law firms in the country. The firm may be reached at (714) 279-1100 or (800) 829-6994. Please visit www. for more information.
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