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How To Get Rid of Crazy Tenants

by Jason Hanson on July 14, 2009 · 13 comments

  
Calvert Woodley Apartment Building
Image by Mr. T in DC via Flickr

Do you know why most landlords think the rental property business is tough? Do you know why I and other investors make so much money off of these “tired landlords”?

It comes down to one thing: They don’t know how to properly screen tenants. And today I’m going to show you how to screen out “the crazy ones”.

First off, crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. Let me explain: If I’m going to go out on a date with a girl I always talk to her on the phone first. And I screen her just as if I was screening a tenant or a motivated seller.

One of the questions that I ask the girl is “If I were to talk to any of your ex-boyfriend’s would they have any stories to tell me about you slashing their tires, keying their car or leaving them 70 voicemails”.

And you’d be surprised at the answers I get. A lot of women will be like “yeah, this one time my boyfriend cheated on me so I went and keyed his car. Or, this one time this guy broke up with me because he said I was too clingy so I filled up his voicemail box for a week straight”.

You see, the crazy woman thinks that all women key cars under certain circumstances, or that all women leave a lot of voicemails when their hearts get broken—once again, crazy people don’t know they’re crazy, so just ask them simple questions and they will “convict themselves”.

A Crazy, Police-Calling Tenant

Let me tell you how this relates to my latest rental property: I was screening a potential tenant and one of my questions is “How did you get along with your previous landlord, were there any problems”.

And immediately this woman went into a 15 minute long tirade. About how she hated her landlord and had threatened to call the police on her landlord several times. So of course, I asked this woman why she was going to call the police on her landlord.

She said the reason was because the landlord wanted to come in and make some repairs to the house and the landlord had called her while she was sleeping (during the day). And that she couldn’t believe the landlord would call and wake her up and she told the landlord if she dared to come over to the house she would call the police immediately.

This crazy woman went on and on and of course I just sat there and listed and let her “crucify herself”.

Obviously, any tenant who is going to easily threaten to call the police at the drop of a hat is not someone you want in your property. Also, I could tell this woman was high maintenance which is another thing you don’t want (high maintenance women and high maintenance tenants are a big no-no).

Do You Have Tenant Screening Questions?

So every time that you are screening a tenant you should have a pre-determined list of questions that you ask every single one of them. Once you’ve been in this business long enough you’ll be able to quickly determine who’ll be awesome tenants and who will be nightmare tenants.

Also, of course you will verify everything by checking paystubs, savings and checking accounts and references. And whatever you do, don’t make the same mistake I made early on, when I wanted a tenant so badly I just let anyone in my property. You only have to do that once before you vow to never make the same mistake again.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Margo July 16, 2009 at 7:50 am

I am a renter in a college town, and college students here- girls in particular – have a reputation for being difficult tenants. I find that, when looking for affordable apartments, I get classed with these younger, less responsible girls. People are hesitant to rent to me simply because of the college stereotype.

And I graduated from a university ten years ago….

I have a full-time job and I’m a responsible, dependable citizen and tenant. While I know just what you are talking about with the “crazy tenants,” since a few choice specimens have been my roommates, there are things you can do, from a tenant’s perspective, to prove that you are *not* one of the crazy ones yourself.
Be well-groomed. Be open and friendly, but not inappropriate. Be considerate of the time and commitments of your future landlord. Ask intelligent questions and offer pertinent information. This one is obvious, but be honest on any documents you are asked to fill out. Absolutely do not refuse a credit check. Why would you refuse unless you have something to hide?
And, once you have a rental agreement, stick to it. Treat the place you are renting with respect. Be clean. Do not be whiny about any repairs that are necessary. -Note – be sure repairs really are needed, and not simply your preference. And, again, obvious, pay your rent on time and in full and you will be the kind of tenant any landlord is looking for.
Works for me, anyway.

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Winston August 7, 2009 at 12:46 am

Jason,

Do you have any other questions that you ask prospective tenants?

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Joe October 29, 2009 at 5:04 pm

What is the tenant pays rent on time, but plays loud ampliphied music at times, refuses to take hazzardous wires out of attic, etc? He tells me I have to get the fire dept to tell him to remove them. The loud guitar he stops for a few weeks and then starts again. We called the police three weeks ago to finally put an end to the music and now he calls the cops every 3 days. Yesterday he called them twice. Once because I told him his wires violated national fire code 400.8 and again while I was in his apt repairing a window. He called 911 telling them I was an intruder and refused to take my shoes off (while working with glass).

What are my options? Do I have to evict? Will I win?

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Cathy Taylor March 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Here’s more information on evictions:

Handling tenant eviction is never a landlord’s favorite duty, but you can make it easier on yourself by knowing the process and the laws. Tenant eviction can happen for several reasons, for example, you sell your property and the new landlord wants to rent or lease to different people.

Other times evicting a tenant can become a long, drawn-out process especially if the tenant is angry about having to move or is doing something illegal like selling drugs out of your property. Then your situation can become dangerous and you must take precautionary steps to ensure your own safety.

You definitely need to know and follow the proper, legal steps to evict a tenant so that you are not slapped with any kind of wrongful eviction lawsuit. Here we will outline the proper steps to take in order to evict your tenant legally and protect yourself from repercussion.

1. File with the county courthouse a Notice to Quit Possession (you can Google samples if you need one). This is the first step in legally evicting a person or persons from your property. You fill out the form at the courthouse with all the property information included and the names of each adult tenant that you want evicted.

You are required to give a reason why you want them evicted, for example non-payment of rent, non-renewal of lease, destruction of property, etc. You are required to give them at least three (3) full days to vacate the premises on the Notice to Quit. This notice is then served to your tenants via a state marshal.

2. If the tenant has not moved by midnight of the day you requested that they vacate the premises as outlined in the Notice to Quit, you will then need to file a Summons and Complaint order. The tenant will be required to appear in court, and they have two (2) full days after receiving this order to file an Appearance to contest the eviction. If they do not, you as the landlord have the right to request a Default Judgment for Failure to Appear against them and rule in your favor. If the tenant files a response to your Summons and Complaint order, then you have to go to court for a trial hearing on your case.

3. At the court hearing you and the tenant will meet with a Housing Specialist who is trained in mediating cases concerning landlord and tenant affairs. They will discuss the case with both of you and will assist you in working out a fair settlement. If a fair settlement is obtained, the judge will review it and then approve or deny it based on the information he or she has before them. You do not have to settle the case. You can push it to trial where the judge will preside over the case and make a decision based on the evidence that is presented.

4. If the judge rules in your favor, the tenant has five days – called a Stay of Execution – to vacate the premises unless the case is for non-payment of rent only, in which case the tenant can apply to get up to three months to stay if the full amount of back rent is paid to the court within five days of the judgment being rendered. If the judgment is based on a termination of lease by lapse of time, the tenant can apply for an additional six months Stay of Execution from the hearing date.

5. Once the judgment has been rendered, the tenant has a set amount of time to vacate the premises – either the five (5) day Stay of Execution awarded by the courts or a longer period of time applied for Stay of Execution. If the tenant has not left your property by midnight on that last day, you can apply for a Summary Process Execution which gives the tenant 24 hours to vacate the premises or else they will be removed by physical force.

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Trisha Hogan May 17, 2010 at 2:08 am

“High maintenance women!” With all due respect, even though your comment was in relation to
the woman you were referring to in your article, as a woman myself – I find your comment biased
and offensive. How about instead: High maintenance women AND men!

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Jeremy May 27, 2010 at 5:57 am

Jason – excellent article!

Trisha – come on, just listen to yourself. Jason was stating the facts in HIS situation.

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Megan July 28, 2010 at 11:26 am

We currently have the most obnoxious tennantS in our rental house next door. They consist of a woman, man (we’re not sure if their married but they are foster brother and sister), and their three kids all under age 4. After screening them, checking their backgrounds, and talking to their references they seemed quite normal, or so we thought. She has already had an ambulance over there twice, as well as, the police. Two of her children have seisures and one has a brain tumor. Post moving in she has also been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Everyday there seems to be a new problem. If it’s not a angry swarm of bees its the heat not working, etc. etc. etc. Once while my father and I were sitting around the house we were startled by a loud pouding on our door, and guess who it was. Our renter, in hysterics, about how the dryer set the house on fire and it was burning up as we spoke. As my dad grabbed the fire extinguisheR and ran towards the house I called the fire department (yet another 911 call)
I was then left with the three kids as she went to “help”. I then receive a call from my father saying call the fire department back and say they will not be needed. Confused I did as I was told, and then went over to the property. There was absolutely NO smoke, NO black marks on the wall, and the dryer was still running. The only evidence was the smoke alarm going off, but oddly enough there was a lighter sitting right below the alarm. Hmm… We have just lately had multiple calls about the fridge being too cold or too warm. Everytime it is checked it seems to be running just fine. After the third “cry for wolf” my father promptly told her, “I will call a repairman for you, but if he says there is nothing wrong than you will pay for it.” She of course gets defensive and says “Well I’ll just buy a new one then!” And the next day the old fridge was sitting on her back porch. This is just a select few of some of the “instances” that have occured while they lived there. Oh and they have only been there 3 MONTHS!!! We still have 9 to go! LESSON LEARNED: DO NOT ALLOW YOUR POSSIBLE TENANTS REFERENCES TO BE FAMILY AND ALWAYS ASK ABOUT THEIR PAST RENTAL EXPERIENCES. WE LEARNED THE HARD WAY!

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Tom Thomas December 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

Sounds like you should have done your homework on these tenants before they moved in. You should have met them first as this probably would have set alarm bells ringing. Getting references from family members is a stupid idea. Chances are these tenants were living with there relatives and they would have done anything to get rid of them! We live and learn.

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Anonymous September 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Who would want to be a landlord/landlady? I have had some problem tenants in my time but your tenants really take the piss. I hope they have moved out by now. Make sure you do the right checks next time and trust your instincts. If your first impression is these tenants are going to cause trouble they probably will.
Good Luck

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Gill March 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I have given my tennants two months notice as i was not renewing their contract after two years – they have 10 (ten) dogs in property and i mean leaving them insde !- they leave for work at 7am and return anytime fro 6pm till 10pm maybe a little later – cn you imagine what the inside of my property looks like .. they cannot find another place that will accept the 10 dogs … they form a pack, are dangerous, and vicious ..i am not going to the court to see what i can do – i have started outside renovating and will make as much noise as possilbe to make it uncomfortable for them ! Anybody out there who wants them ?

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Angelina December 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm

My tenant has undermined the system and continues to do so. Judge warranted eviction but he has petition motion to show claims he paid his rent but this is false. He always paid in checks that were the agreement on the lease. I am thinking he might try to say he paid in cash how can I prove he is lying or is the burden on her and if he needs to prove it will they give him more time to do this. The hearing date is next week.

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Karen May 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm

We are a year and a half into our tenants. We never intended to rent out condo. After my mother moved out, we had it on a website for sale. We were approached by a man and his mother to buy the home. Quickly it went from buying to leasing it for a year and then making the purchase at the end of that year. Our lives have been turned upside down by these people. They have sued about twelve different companies and individuals. Once the emails started coming about fixing this and fixing that (doorbell light was one), it was never ending. I put their names into Google and used the words lawsuit, litigation, attorney, etc. and the world of crazy people opened up. Today I received an email wanting the name of our personal or business attorney. We were waiting on that email/ letter because we knew it would eventually come. For some reason they feel because they WANTED to buy the condo and never could, that the money paid in RENT should be refundable. Of course, they don’t really believe this. They are the type of people that attempt to making a living by getting something for nothing. By the way, here is the top of crazy. We sent a registered letter to inform them of a visit. When we arrived, we found that there was no bed in the home. There was only one full size mattress on the floor. He stays up all night while she sleeps. During the day, she’s up. So, all of you just thought you had crazy people. I’m really the lucky one. Oh, and yes I hired an attorney to get them the heck out of our house.

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Elli November 13, 2013 at 5:30 am

I keep finding tenants from hell on Craigslist & I am done with using such stupid site.

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