How I Was Almost Fooled by Evicted Tenants (& What I Learned)

How I Was Almost Fooled by Evicted Tenants (& What I Learned)

2 min read
Sterling White

Sterling White is a multifamily investor, specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded, Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units.

Sterling is a seasoned real estate investor, philanthropist, speaker, host, mentor, and former world record attemptee, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. He is the author of the renowned book From Zero to 400 Units and the host of a phenomenal podcast, which hit the No. 1 spot on The Real Estate Experience Podcast‘s list of best shows in the investing category.

Living and breathing real estate since 2009, Sterling currently owns multiple businesses related to real estate, including Sterling White Enterprises, Sonder Investment Group, and other investment partnerships. Throughout the span of a decade, he has contributed to helping others become successful in the real estate industry. In addition, he has been directly involved with both buying and selling over 100 single family homes.

Sterling’s primary specialities include sales, marketing, crowdfunding, buy and hold investing, investment properties, and many more.

He was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #308 and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to mindset and scaling a business online. He has been featured on multiple other podcasts, too.

When he isn’t immersed in the real world, Sterling likes reading motivational books, including Maverick Mindset by Doug Hall, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

As a thrill-seeker with an evident fear of heights, he somehow managed to jump off of a 65-foot cliff into deep water without flinching. (Okay, maybe a little bit…) Sterling is also an avid kale-eating traveller, but nothing is more important to him than family. His unusual habit is bird-watching, which he discovered he truly enjoyed during an Ornithology class from his college days.

Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

Instagram @sterlingwhiteofficial

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The top thing in every landlord’s mind is to ensure that you don’t recruit a tenant who will only result in an eviction notice. After all, having a troubled tenant can lead to cash flow problems, which is obviously bad. On that same note, not only can this lead to financial distress, but it can be time consuming and energy draining—and having to force others to move out of your property ASAP is simply not something you want to be doing.

Honestly, everything that I am about to say is true. I mean, sure, you see on the news channel, the internet and sometimes you hear from others these horrifying stories, but to experience one yourself is something else entirely. It was truly mind blowing to witness firsthand how much lie-weaving people were willing to do in order to trap some unwitting landlord to rent them the property. Want to hear the story? Well, here we go.


They Looked Like Great Candidates

One day, the mother of a family called to give a walkthrough of property. I always make sure to do pre-vetting over phone to make sure they fit the qualifications, i.e. the applicant has to produce 3x net monthly income in addition to good rental history, verification of time on their job, and also good landlord references. In my case, I thought I hit the jackpot—after all, it was a beautiful family with a stay at home mother, hard working father, grandmother, and newborn daughter. Why, you couldn’t possibly ask for better tenants!

Related: 5 Scams That Trick Landlords Into Accepting Less-Than-Stellar Tenants

The family took a walkthrough of the house and absolutely loved it (as they should because that home was truly lovely). As a result, they decided that they wanted to move forward and discuss terms and legalities. But here is where things start to get really interesting.

On their application, they had their current residence, in addition to the contact information for their present landlord. So, as per routine, I ran the application through, and after some brief investigation, I discovered that they were being evicted from their current residence. However, when I contacted the family, they waved away my concerns and said that it was simply a glitch, assuring me that the landlord could verify (red flag alert!). I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, so I called the landlord (who I later found out was a family member posing as a landlord).


Don’t Take All References at Face Value

The landlord a.k.a. family member mentioned that they were good tenants, and if given the chance, they would absolutely love to rent to them again. Obviously, I couldn’t take a mere word for something as serious as an eviction, so what I did from there was pull the public tax records out—which in turn showed the name of the actual landlord along with his true address.

Related: How to Pacify Your Most Indignant Tenants With One Simple Strategy

It doesn’t take much guesswork to know what I did next. I whizzed over there, and the (genuine) landlord mentioned that the family that he had as tenants were in fact being evicted and looking to get my place ASAP in fear that they would be without a home. The moment I heard this, I went ahead and approved the tenants out of generosity.

In a dream world, that last statement would have been the case, but in actuality I declined them. 

Honestly, the whole situation was mentally straining, and I just wanted to point out that these things happen in real life and not just in stories you hear from other people, so the moral of this story is that tenants do lie, so you should always do thorough due diligence. 

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

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Investors: Let me know—what’s YOUR worst tenant story?

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