While Pacific Heights is clearly fiction and an extreme exaggeration of the loopholes in rental laws in California, one thing landlords may take away from the movie is this: failure to check on a tenant’s background can result in some nasty consequences
What Happens When You Do Not Screen Properly
Most landlords will never be plagued by a tenant even approaching the “Carter Hayes” status of nuisance. On the other hand, many landlords can tell horror stories of fighting for months to evict poor tenants or of having rental properties damaged beyond recognition when a tenant moves out unexpectedly. Even worse than the sinking feeling accompanying the realization that a tenant may have left behind significant damage is the sudden realization that none of the tenant’s contact information is valid and that the landlord has no way of collecting the money.
Recent “Tales from the Crypt” about bad tenants include the following stories:
- A mother and her children moved into an apartment, immediately failed to pay rent for three months, and then hired a lawyer to fight the eviction because the mother claimed the landlord made inappropriate advances to her in exchange for rent payment.
- A tenant gave references that seemed to check out well. However, after evicting the tenant for noise violations and significant damage to the property, the landlord discovered that the application’s information referred to a cousin of the tenant and that those giving the good references did not realize who the tenant actually was.
- A tenant who caused significant damage to an apartment was found to have caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to a previous rental that was actually listed on the application. However, the landlord failed to check the tenant’s references because he seemed to be an “honest guy.”
How Can Landlords Avoid Renting to Poor Tenants?
Tenant screening does not prevent bad tenants from occupying properties. There is a limit to what historic information can show and there is always the possibility that someone lies on an application with help from a friend or relative. However, screening does prevent a large percentage of problems with potential tenants and gives landlords a clear picture of what the tenant may be like.
CheckPoint offers complete tenant screening to give landlords the most complete picture possible. Through the Landlord Dashboard, landlords can require prospective tenants to fill out a rental application online that automatically generates a background check. Depending on the package a landlord chooses with CheckPoint, landlords may have immediate access to reference checks, credit reports and rental histories. This information can help landlords make informed decisions about prospective renters and avoid many of the issues surrounding “bad renters.”
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