Looking For Honesty Is The Best Policy

Looking For Honesty Is The Best Policy

The vast majority of those in rented accommodation are good tenants who pay their rent on time and never cause their landlords any unnecessary trouble. Unfortunately however sometimes a good tenant can go bad and what was a happy, mutually beneficial relationship breaks down with it. On other occasions the tenant was just bad to start with and the tenure of their stay was wrought with problems from start to finish. Unfortunately, evicting a problem tenant is not always the end of the matter. If the damage they have done goes beyond what can be covered by their security deposit, landlords may well find themselves out of pocket and have trouble finding someone new to live in the property. Relationships with neighbors and the wider neighborhood may also be adversely affected. It is better, therefore, to look for the warning signs before the lease is agreed.

The Importance of Good Faith

In America, the law provides us with a safety net but it does not control our lives. Consequently it is possible to have a tenant who lives entirely within legal boundaries but is still a liability to deal with. A tenant who performs only the bare minimum that the law requires cannot be said to be acting with honesty and good faith. They will be a frustration to deal with while they pay their rent, but can be far worse when things go wrong. They will try every trick in the book to make your life as difficult as possible, whilst giving you as little room for recourse as they can.

For example, most leases do not permit the use of illegal drugs on the property, and current usage can be a reason for rejecting an application. The reason that certain substances are prohibited is that their consumption has a deleterious effect on society itself. Dealing with an unstable heroin addict or even an irresponsible marijuana smoker is every landlord’s nightmare. The spirit of the law is the desire to maintain and orderly, workable society, but this can be subverted by a disingenuous person. There are plenty of legally available substances that have a narcotic effect if ingested. These so-called ‘legal highs’ can be just as dangerous to the user as illegal drugs and cause just as many problems for their landlord, especially as they are much less likely to acknowledge the problem and seek appropriate help.

Avoiding Evasiveness

Prevention is always better than a cure, and when deciding whether to agree a lease with a new tenant, it is sensible to check their background. Asking for references is a good start, but as they can be relatively easy to fake, conducting an interview is always worth the effort. Prepare you questions in advance and consider how to interpret their answers. The key quality to look for is honesty. A person who has had trouble in the past but is up-front about it is far less likely to cause you problems than someone who tries to shift responsibility for their own mistakes.

This does not mean you should be suspicious of a blemish-less record, most people have never given trouble and never will. What you should be wary of is evasiveness or shiftiness. Hard times can befall even the most blameless person. When they do, what you want are tenants who when facing difficulties paying their rent or who damage your property by accident, let you know at the earliest opportunity. This allows you to mitigate any losses you incur, process insurance claims easily, and helps to maintain a positive, low-stress relationship. Tenants who promise to pay the rent on time and make excuses for failure or who hide damage until they have vacated are far more trouble to deal with!

Ultimately, honesty is the barometer by which you can decide whether to cut a tenant some slack. Someone who lies to you to protect themselves is likely to do so again and again, until they have normalized what would have been unacceptable behavior and made themselves impossible to remove. Even an honest tenant with an unstable life is better, provided they keep you up to speed with it, and help to manage the problems it causes. With time and luck they will get their lives back on track and become the best kind of tenant; honest and trouble-free!

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When to Evict?

When To Evict? How New Landlords Can Know When To Start Eviction Proceedings

All landlords would happily go their whole lives without having to evict any of their tenants. When eviction proceedings are called for, it means that something has obviously gone very wrong in the agreement. Making the decision to evict can be a very difficult process for landlords, no one wants to throw people out on the streets, but despite your best efforts as a landlord, so tenants don’t keep their side of the bargain and you are then well within your rights to obtain a court order to get them out. Remember, you are running a business and it could seriously damage your business and ultimately destroy it if you let the triumvirate of bad tenants, debtors, destroyers and violators, run roughshod over you.


The most common reason why you would want to get someone out of your property is that they have not been paying their rent. Depending on your state, they will usually have a few days leeway, between 3 to 5 days normally, to pay up before you can start proceedings. You can, at your own discretion allow them a little longer if you know they are usually good payers and are creditworthy. Most tenants either forget to pay their rent once or twice, or struggle for a month or two, and a good landlord will be able to tell the difference between absent-mindedness and true delinquency. However, don’t take ignorance as an excuse, there is no need any more for tenants not to know your and their rights, and a good landlord will also be firm with their tenants and say that if they cannot afford the rent every month then maybe they should look for somewhere cheaper.


Whereas with people missing their rental payment you can often make a subjective assessment of the situation and see that some people don’t mean to miss their payments and will only be a day or two late, you should take a much firmer stance against those that wilfully destroy property. Property destruction can be difficult to assess unless you have regular access to the property. Make sure you check up on any house or apartment that you think might be at risk on a regular basis, remembering to give the tenants the required notice of you visiting their home (usually at least 24 hours). This is a good reason to cultivate good relationships with all your tenants. If one think that another might be causing damage, they are more likely to tell a friendly landlord than a difficult one. There is almost never a good reason for property damage and unless the tenant immediately called the problem to your attention and offered recompense, you are completely within your rights to start eviction proceedings, probably the sooner the better.


Most other evictions will come as the result of violations of the tenancy agreement, and that will be down to exactly what you have prohibited in your properties. These might be fairly minor such as the rules for pets in the property, noise restrictions or restrictions on the number of guests allowed to stay and for how long. If you have put limitations such as these in your tenancy agreements then you should enforce them, otherwise they are useless. Every tenant should look over the agreement before signing and if their 20-pound Chihuahua is actually a 70-pound German Shepard then they should think twice rather than trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Again, the course of action you take is at your discretion, but any court will uphold an eviction order if the tenant has blatantly broken the rules. Though you might overlook the odd violation you have to seriously consider that this might lead to further breaking of the rules, and can have a negative effect on other tenants, especially concerning such things as noise pollution. If you are seen as too much of a soft touch, it can encourage people to flaunt the agreement, leading to more serious issues within your community. Any illegal activity, such as recreational narcotics use, may be immediate grounds for eviction and you should start the process without delay.

It is important to remember that however annoying and terrible a tenant may be, you can and should never evict them yourselves. You have entered into a legal agreement with these people, and it can only be dealt with by the courts. Do not change locks or throw people’s belongings into the street as it is you that will be hauled up in front of a judge rather than them. Contact professionals and contact the courts and start proceedings as soon as possible and then let the law deal with the debtors, destroyers and violators while you concentrate on your decent tenants.