In April 2012 a story from Edmonton, Canada, made national attention. It is about a landlord who discovered a hard lesson on the importance of doing due diligence when renting a property. She originally thought they were ideal tenants. They were two working parents with two small children. After all, who would not rent to a family that appears nice and present themselves well.
However, when she attempted to contact the couple for payment, she discovered that a window was smashed and the home reaped of urine. The floor and carpet were covered with dog urine, garbage, furniture. The walls were covered with ink. The renters had flushed rags in addition to other items in the downstairs toilet.
Repairs were estimated to be in excess of $16,000. One of the sad things is that she let the family pay only half of the original deposit, which was only $600. Sadly, she did not have a rental agreement nor did she conduct a move in inspection. The property owner had later taken the parents to court in hopes of receiving back rental payments, but the couple failed to show.
Unfortunately, stories like this happen quite often, partly because we usually allow first impressions to guide us. First impressions should never replace due diligence. Due diligence consist of obtaining contracts and meticulously scrutinizing potential tenants.
The best way to start is by asking a variety of different questions and acquire as much information as you can about the potential tenant, such as past residences, credit history, speaking with previous landlords, and former neighbors.
Some questions that you may want to ask former landlords include:
- How many times were they late with their rent?
- When they left the property, what was the condition of the property?
- How long did they reside at the property?
- Were any complaints made by the neighbors?
Some questions you may want to ask former neighbors include:
- Have you ever seen the police at the residence while they were staying there?
- Did you ever have to call the police on them?
- How was their overall demeanor towards you?
- Did they work? If so, where did they work?
Do not allow yourself to be the victim. Take the necessary steps to protect your property and yourself. This story highlights why it is so important do due diligence on every potential renter.
Source: Alberta Landlord’s Association