Do not take shortcuts on screening!

35 Replies

Thought I had the perfect tenant. Did a background check, got copies of his pay stub, call HR and checked on his employment, I even called his HR Dept and verified all his info before he even gave my the persons name to contact just in case he set someone up to answer for him. Everything checked out fine. He is a VP of Operations and makes $2600 week. ( rent is $1900 mth) Well he moved in Nov 2018 , he paid Nov & Dec  no problem. He signed a 5 year lease to boot. Thought I was all set for 5 years with the perfect tenant, now im thinking I got scammed.    My bank tried to auto debit ( Cozy) his account on Jan 5th, 5 days past the rent due date and it was insufficient. I called him, he said there was a  mixup with his bank and that he will pay me cash for Jan and correct the auto debit for Feb. ( excuses) Well here it is 21 days later and still no cash.

Now  he is 21 days late for Jan. I sent him a 5 day demand for payment letter and got no response.

He wont return my calls, emails or text. I went to the house, see both cars in the driveway, no one answers the door.  I do not know what to do next at this point but turn over to the lawyers. Now the only thing that seemed fishy was  when I told him I was running his credit report early on, he said" I just ran it last week for something else and I do not want another " ding" on my report so could he just send me a copy of that one he has, so I agreed. now im thinking the report must of been forged somehow. Because why would someone with an 805 credit score risk having an eviction ? He had 0 cc debt, no evictions anywhere, etc   Moral of the story is : do not take any shortcuts on the screening process. Even if they have copies or whatever, due your complete due diligence on every tenant. I should of went with my gut feeling about this guy. I had a feeling something wasn't right but I took a chance and now im paying for it. Should I send this to the lawyers and get rid of him? I don't want to start the process, pay my lawyer then he comes up with money and now im back to square one.  AnyThoughts?

My guess is he's not worried about an eviction because he's a professional tenant and you don't have his real information (hence the reason he wanted to provide you with his credit report rather than have you run it for yourself) so any eviction or derogatory information won't actually go on his credit file.   Running his credit would have (at most) only lowered his score a couple points, if that, since any credit inquires of the same type within a short timeframe (usually 30 days or so) are treated as one inquiry so he probably provided you a forged or fake credit report. 

Also, a 5 year lease is too long for the landlord.  I do one year leases personally. 

I'd start the eviction process ASAP at this point.

Originally posted by @Bob Romano :

Thought I had the perfect tenant. Did a background check, got copies of his pay stub, call HR and checked on his employment, I even called his HR Dept and verified all his info before he even gave my the persons name to contact just in case he set someone up to answer for him. Everything checked out fine. He is a VP of Operations and makes $2600 week. ( rent is $1900 mth) Well he moved in Nov 2018 , he paid Nov & Dec  no problem. He signed a 5 year lease to boot. Thought I was all set for 5 years with the perfect tenant, now im thinking I got scammed.    My bank tried to auto debit ( Cozy) his account on Jan 5th, 5 days past the rent due date and it was insufficient. I called him, he said there was a  mixup with his bank and that he will pay me cash for Jan and correct the auto debit for Feb. ( excuses) Well here it is 21 days later and still no cash.

Now  he is 21 days late for Jan. I sent him a 5 day demand for payment letter and got no response.

He wont return my calls, emails or text. I went to the house, see both cars in the driveway, no one answers the door.  I do not know what to do next at this point but turn over to the lawyers. Now the only thing that seemed fishy was  when I told him I was running his credit report early on, he said" I just ran it last week for something else and I do not want another " ding" on my report so could he just send me a copy of that one he has, so I agreed. now im thinking the report must of been forged somehow. Because why would someone with an 805 credit score risk having an eviction ? He had 0 cc debt, no evictions anywhere, etc   Moral of the story is : do not take any shortcuts on the screening process. Even if they have copies or whatever, due your complete due diligence on every tenant. I should of went with my gut feeling about this guy. I had a feeling something wasn't right but I took a chance and now im paying for it. Should I send this to the lawyers and get rid of him? I don't want to start the process, pay my lawyer then he comes up with money and now im back to square one.  AnyThoughts?

 Ouch man. He pulled one over on you. This one is a classic. He got you to put your guard down & then provided his own credit report. It's fairly obvious now but don't let that happen in the future. When you are doing your screening stick to your same screening process for every single tenant. No matter how good they seem do not deviate in any way. The mere fact that they are asking you to deviate is in itself a major red flag.

What you need to do now is just evict this scumbag. This is a savage business & those of us who have been in it a long time have all taken our lumps. Consider these your lumps.....Lol these lumps are going to hurt but you'll get through them & you will be a much better landlord next time. 

I thought only hard pulls lowered the credit score for a period of time, while soft pulls do not impact the credit score.

When I applied to rent my current apartment, the landlord did a hard pull through a third-party service. When I've opened savings accounts at banks and credit unions, these institutions did hard pulls. I've used my free Credit Karma report (soft pull) when I've needed to verify my household balance sheet (assets minus liabilities).

i could see having a pro tenant get one over on you but I can’t forgive you for the 5 year lease . This is beyond foolish . The lease should be a year or less and it is there to protect the tenant not the landlord ..bad idea

Never accept a credit report from a tenant. Decades old scam. Sorry man. 

Chalk it up as an expensive lesson learned. I would evict him yesterday; don’t drag your feet waiting on this one. The sooner you start, the sooner he’ll be gone.

@Bob Romano I’m so sorry you’re going through this. One idea that might be worth trying, I hear you on the concern of paying lawyer fees only to get a response from him with the payment right after. Perhaps being clear about your intention with him will “scare” him into paying — if he legitimately just forgot. If he is a professional tenant and wanting to avoid payment then you’ll have to go through the lawyer route. So to find out if it’s the first scenario, let him know in writing that he is late on rent, and the amount he owes you. In writing mention all of your emails and calls to him to ask for the payment and say that if you do not receive the money from him by a specified date you will indeed be going to the lawyer. Sometimes this will work if the tenant was indeed just putting it off for whatever reason. And if it doesn’t, it didn’t cost you that much time or effort and you can go down the legal path with no regrets. Again sorry to hear about the tough situation. Good luck.

did you make a copy of his ID? is he really who he says he is?    you could always call the cops and tell them you have someone you suspect is/used a fraudulent ID, and that you want the people in your house identified.. ?  he might have taken over the ID of that VP, whose work checks out.. but he is not really him.

 He emailed me last night saying" I and very sorry for the late response I am not used to checking this email as I only receive junk here and phone still not in due to weather backing up shipment etc. I can just leave the rent in the mailbox when I leave for work in the morning so you can pick up first thing in the am and if you can leave receipt in mailbox I’ll pick up when I return from work. Please confirm if that works for you." 

Should i accept the payment  or tell him he broke the lease and I want him gone and let the lawyers handle it?  My gut tells me to get rid of him, its only going to keep happening.

Hi @Bob Romano ,

First and foremost, thank you for sharing this situation.  Starting with your most recent update - If it was me, I would cut my losses immediately and seek a new tenant. My family had some serious issues with untrustworthy tenants who pleaded with them that their situation was just unusual, and it would improve.. it never did. Something they thought me was to treat a tenant like a potential employee - the first few interactions are interviews. The first couple of months is the trial period - a great employee is one that is on time to work (pays on time), presents well (keeps the property in order) and is respectful to their colleagues (neighbors & YOU). If you were his employer and just hired him, and he comes in late every day of his first week... warning lights would go off and you would be letting them go..

I wish you only the best, and as @David Avetisyan mentioned - this is an expensive lesson learned but one you can in turn share with others! 

Let us know if you have a refined screening process in place going forward, as I would love to see how that is the implemented!

Best of luck,

Shane

@Bob Romano if you accept the rent make sure it includes a late charge. I would also request he hands it to you in person. at that time i would get a cell phone pic of his drivers license and a headshot. and that goes for all persons living there. I assume its not just him since you said 2 cars in the driveway eariler.

@Bob Romano

No no no. Next excuse is gonna be “ I left cash in the mailbox for you but someone must have stolen it”. Make him deliver it to you in person

I will not pile on because you already know the mistakes you made screening wise. 

Instead, I want to thank you for having the guts to post this. Landlords/wannabe landlords will learn more from this post than most of the ones I see in the forums.

It only gets better, I just called his work and his supervisor just told me " he doesn't work here anymore" 

Great 

Originally posted by @Bob Romano :

 He emailed me last night saying" I and very sorry for the late response I am not used to checking this email as I only receive junk here and phone still not in due to weather backing up shipment etc. I can just leave the rent in the mailbox when I leave for work in the morning so you can pick up first thing in the am and if you can leave receipt in mailbox I’ll pick up when I return from work. Please confirm if that works for you." 

Should i accept the payment  or tell him he broke the lease and I want him gone and let the lawyers handle it?  My gut tells me to get rid of him, its only going to keep happening.

 Eviction is the ONLY thing you should do right now. Do not engage in his narrative. He is playing on your inexperience. Textbook behavior from a tenant who has done this before. Turn it over to your eviction attorney & write this off as a loss. You are just dragging out the inevitable here. 

James, i just called my attorney to get the process started. I will keep all of you posted how it goes. Thank you all for your input 

Originally posted by @Bob Romano :

James, i just called my attorney to get the process started. I will keep all of you posted how it goes. Thank you all for your input 

 Well done Bob. Whatever you do make sure you stay disciplined throughout the process as I fully expect this piece of garbage to offer up many excuses & ideas that seem like the easy way out like the money in the mailbox. Just as someone above mentioned once you go there the money will be gone & it will be another set of excuses. Good luck my man, you'll get through this & it'll just be a funny story you tell at dinner parties one day.

You're going the right route evicting. For the future:

1. Never a lease longer than one year. Even if he paid on time, all the time, he might be a PITA and you might want him gone in six months. Better to have the option than not.

2. Always check IDs before handing over the keys. The name and picture on the driver's license should match the name on the lease. 

3. Never accept a credit report you don't pull through your own resources (TransUnion's mysmartmove, Cozy, etc are OK because you initiate).

4. Specify how you accept payment in your lease and don't deviate from that method. That will avoid the "money in the mailbox" suggestion. 

As @James Wise said, it's a tough lesson but will just be a "been there, done that" story down the line. Good luck!

Originally posted by @JD Martin :

You're going the right route evicting. For the future:

1. Never a lease longer than one year. Even if he paid on time, all the time, he might be a PITA and you might want him gone in six months. Better to have the option than not.

2. Always check IDs before handing over the keys. The name and picture on the driver's license should match the name on the lease. 

3. Never accept a credit report you don't pull through your own resources (TransUnion's mysmartmove, Cozy, etc are OK because you initiate).

4. Specify how you accept payment in your lease and don't deviate from that method. That will avoid the "money in the mailbox" suggestion. 

As @James Wise said, it's a tough lesson but will just be a "been there, done that" story down the line. Good luck!

 To piggy back off of 4 here. You really need to control the situation at all times. What professional tenants are good at doing is identifying 1st time or very inexperienced landlords. They see someone who hasn't done this stuff before & then they start small & continue pushing the envelope of control. This dude started this behavior with the credit report. He pushed & you released control of the situation to him, putting him in the driver seat on something that seemed small. No he is trying to push it even further by dictating the how & when the rent is paid to you. Just another tactic to take more of your control away. So now what you've got to do is let this punk keep driving that vehicle of control right into the brick wall you are going to build by taking it all back.

My fear is that this pro tenant subleased the house out to someone else and he doesn't even live there. How do I get the other people out who are not even on a lease? I am going by there today to see who answers the door, if anybody 

If anything, I'd say the credit/eviction report is the most important thing. Sure, making tons of money is good, but only if you actually pay your bills with that money. I've seen many people that make 5 times the income to rent, but have all their credit cards maxed out and in arrears. Sorry you're going through this. Just try to remember it's a marathon. You will recover, and you have learned. 

To piggy back a question on this; what do you do if their current landlord/property manager will not verify anything other than "yes, they rent from us". Some landlords/property managers are in fear of being sued if they give any other information, even if tenant signs a release. I verified income and employment and pulled credit/eviction/criminal report, and checked local courts online for any judgments. I also requested bank statements from the applicant. In the end, I rented to her. Only been two months, but everything is good so far. But I was still nervous. It just seemed like one thing was left "unchecked". 

@JD Martin Great bullet points JD. As they say " you live and learn" so true

just remember (if is true in your area), that if you are evicting and you take even a partial payment for the late rent, the judge will most likely throw the case out. If you are evicting and he pays some or all of the money, refuse it and send it back with a paper trail. Sorry this is happening to you.

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here