If you’re not sure what a “Professional Tenant” is, grab some popcorn because they are the horror story waiting to prey on your you and your rental property. Professional tenants, also referred to as professional renters, are tenants whose goal is to avoid paying rent at all costs.
These renters know the legal loopholes of renting and will use multiple tactics to live in your property for free. Knowing how to spot them, avoid them, or get rid of them can be a massive undertaking. But have no fear: a San Antonio property manager can be the key to steering clear of this costly danger to your investment.
What’s a Professional Tenant?
Let’s first dig into what it means to be a professional tenant. As stated, their goal is to avoid paying rent at all costs using multiple tactics and legal loopholes. It takes an experienced and savvy landlord to avoid them. Why? Because a professional tenant’s main tactic is playing to your empathy. If you’re not someone who can say no or are bad at detecting lies a property manager will be your best line of defense.
From the beginning of your relationship with this potential renter, the professional tenant lies. Bad credit, gaps in their renting history, and previous evictions will all be explained away. If the professional tenant slips through your screening process, then the real nightmare begins. Suddenly, there are issues with their unit or the property as a whole.
What Does the Professional Tenant Do?
The professional tenant will leverage these issues not to pay their rent until it is handled. Now, each tenant will differ in their comfortability with a potential problem, which is how a landlord can be suckered into performing services and repairs and still never receive the money owed.
Another method is for the professional tenant to present a sob story. A sick family member or a sudden firing will delay rent payments with promises to catch up once the crisis is over. After months of this, depending on your means and gumption, you still won’t have seen a dime.
Can Eviction Remove the Professional Tenant?
Now the legal proceedings will begin. The courts are the professional tenant’s stomping ground, and they will know how to trap you, play to the judge, or use the system to delay the proceedings again and again.
Once you’re able to get to the eviction process a new set of lies and delay tactics will begin. In some cases, a professional tenant, after months of paying little to nothing, will get you to pay them. This process is called “cash for keys”; an amount is paid to the professional tenant to vacate the property at last. Cash for keys can end up being less expensive than a full eviction process or pursuing legal action. It is with this final act that a professional tenant can consider themselves triumphant.
Not only have they put you through the emotional and possibly legal ringer, but they’ve succeeded in making their victim pay them to conduct their atrocities. Your unit in many cases will be trashed, and items may even be stolen. A new renter can’t be placed until you’ve refurbished, costing you even more.
Dodging the Professional Tenant
So how do you avoid renting to a Professional Tenant? The short and simple answer is a thorough screening. Conducting a thorough screening can be difficult but doable as a single landlord. Many resources such as this guide will help you navigate the screening process.
There are more pitfalls to screening than just avoiding the Professional Tenant. For instance, you could open yourself up to a lawsuit if a potential renter feels you discriminated against them. Having an expert property manager conduct your screenings will help you avoid this and other hazards of screening, including the professional tenant.
If you’re able to work with a property manager then screening is largely off your shoulders, but here are the significant parts of the process as well as red flags to avoid:
The screening process might include:
– Running Credit Reports and Background Checks
o Check your state laws regarding criminal background checks as some states don’t allow for certain crimes to be considered against the applicant.
-Running an Eviction History Report
o Having an eviction in the last five years can be grounds for denying an applicant. If you still want to rent to them, consider requiring payment in the form of money order to avoid NSF charges.
-Verifying Employment and Income
o Speak to previous and current employers if only to make sure the company exists and the applicant worked there.
-Verification of Previous Housing
o Again, speak to the previous landlords to make sure this applicant lived there.
Red Flags to avoid:
-Multiple evictions or legal proceedings with a landlord
– Gaps in their employment and rental history that they can’t explain
– The applicant is a fount of knowledge when it comes to the legal side of renting
These red flags are best detected by interviewing the applicant in person. However, a seasoned Professional Tenant will be able to gloss over the first two points convincingly enough that you forgive even with documented evidence of them being a bad tenant.
Why Hire a Property Manager?
With all of the work that goes into screening an applicant, having a property manager in your corner can be invaluable. Not only can a property manager handle the screening process from top to bottom, but they can save you time and money as well.
Despite the resources available to landlords, making certain that screening is conducted fairly, legally, and shrewdly is difficult and time-consuming. An experienced property manager will know the federal and local laws to avoid discrimination. They will also create a professional front which will be more difficult for the professional tenant to overcome.
Property managers will have the means to conduct background checks and pull credit and eviction histories and the time to go through a thorough verification of employment and previous rentals. But most importantly, an excellent property manager will be your first and last line of defense. Your property manager would be your third-party witness and enforcer if a professional tenant were able to get through the screening process with the ability to work with difficult tenants and manage the eviction process.
With a property manager, you as a landlord are one step removed the Professional Tenant which can ultimately strip them of their ability to manipulate you and cost you money.
If you are interested in having your property managed by Real Property Management Campanas, have more questions, or just want to speak to one of our team members, then contact us online or call us directly at (210) 314-1039 today!
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.