It can be challenging to avoid professional tenants when owning a real estate investment property used as a rental. These tenants know how to play the game and will try every trick in the book to get what they want (often without paying the rent)! It can be strange to think about, but there are people who try to scam unsuspecting landlords and try to live in a rental property for free or at great expense to the owner.
In this blog post, our Atlanta property management experts look at how to identify these professionals, what to do when you realize you have a professional renter, and how to avoid them with a proper screening process.
What is a Professional Tenant?
A professional tenant knows how to work the rental home system to take advantage of landlords and cause problems. Once they are in your property, they will try to withhold the rent or break their lease by subletting your place without asking your permission first.
A professional renter understands legal loopholes and technicalities and looks for ways to exploit the system. They also know how to drag out an eviction notice, costing the landlord time and money.
Professionals Renters Have a Playbook
You probably won't see "professional renter" listed on a rental application. Still, there are plenty of red flags to alert rental owners that an applicant isn't a good idea for a property. When screening tenants or dealing with a current resident that could be a professional tenant, look for:
- Paying partial rent. Professional renters may sometimes pay only part of their rent for the month. If a landlord accepts a tenant's partial payment that month, they might not be able to remove the individual until the following month, depending on current laws.
- Preferring to pay in cash. Professional tenants prefer paying in cash since it's difficult to keep track of it. They may even make false claims about making cash payments or forge rental receipts to show a judge during the court process for eviction.
- Skirting late fees. When a professional tenant fails to pay rent on time, they may merely settle the account and promise to pay the late charge at a later date. They hope that by doing this, a landlord becomes weary of being a debt collector and waives the late charges.
- Making false claims about the unit. It is your responsibility as a landlord to make sure a property is safe and livable for a renter. However, professional tenants will frequently make maintenance demands, even if there is not a problem with the property. Professional renters may also declare the apartment unlivable and trash it on purpose for "proof."
To help protect yourself from fraudulent claims about your property, keep thorough records of all maintenance requests and repairs.
What Should You Do if You Encounter a Professional Renter?
The first step to deal with a professional tenant is to seek legal advice from an attorney. You can also contact an Atlanta, Georgia property management company to help identify and eliminate professional renters from your pool of potential candidates for your real estate investment property. The best way to get rid of a professional renter is to avoid them in the first place!
How Can Property Owners Avoid Professionals Tenant?
Avoiding professional tenants starts with thoroughly screening each candidate before letting them move in. Look for eviction process records and a history of not paying rent on time. These tenants also have some red flags during the screening process, including wanting to pay cash upfront, asking to skip the background check, and seeming a little "too good to be true" on paper.
A Metro Atlanta Property Management Company Can Help
In sports, the adage is a good defense is the best offense. Here are a few tips for managing renters (good or bad)!
Be Thorough With Background Checks
The first step to finding a qualified renter (and avoiding bad ones) is a background check. A property management company can make sure that background checks are done correctly and that any red flags are addressed before they become a more expensive problem.
Have a Thorough Lease Agreements Ready
Professional renters know how to get around the rules and regulations. Your lease is the primary legal document that protects your property and income while outlining the rules for your property. Be sure you have a thorough lease agreement (and get it signed) before handing over the keys.
Charge Late Fees
Be consistent and charge a late fee when rent is repeatedly past due. If unpaid rent is an ongoing issue for more than a month, work with your lawyer and a property management company in Atlanta to start the eviction process.
A Property Management Company Isn't Fooled By a Professional Tenant
Professional tenants are smart, but the right Atlanta property management company is smarter! Compass Property Management has the experience to properly vet a potential renter candidate to maximize income for real estate investors. If you're dealing with troublesome residents, reach to learn how we can help!
To find the best tenants for your property, download our free Tenant Screening Checklist!