Sometimes those who seem like they would be great tenants end up being complete duds. While you might be ready to say good riddance when they finally leave, it's important to take steps to keep these tenants from repeating their bad behaviors elsewhere. There are several ways that you can help other landlords avoid these tenants, and stop the cycle of bad tenants in an effective, professional way.
Avoiding lawsuits is often at the forefront of landlords' minds when dealing with bad tenants. When the tenant is still living on your property, take care to document any offenses, from keeping paperwork on missed rent payments to taking photos of property damage. This is especially true if you're making claims about financial reliability that may impact the tenant's credit score.
You should also inform your tenant of any steps you're planning to take ahead of time, from reporting them to a credit bureau to hiring a debt collection agency to collect on unpaid rent. When you do take action, make sure that you stick to appropriate outlets. While that aggravating tenant who constantly left cigarette butts all over the yard might seem like he deserves a few points knocked off his credit score, making false claims is a sure way to get sued. A better recourse for unruly tenants might be simply sending an email out to other landlords in your network. Of course, the same advice stands that you should only provide accurate information if you choose to do this.
Reporting Bad Tenants to the Credit Bureau
One of the quickest and most efficient ways to indicate to other landlords that a tenant is a bad bet is to report them to the credit bureau. This strategy is only relevant for tenants with whom you've had rent payment problem. Again, make sure you are able to provide appropriate documentation of your tenant's failure to pay to backup your claims. It's critical that you follow the letter of the law when filing a report, so you'll want to have proof of your rental agreement, documentation of any eviction notices, and evidence of your attempts to collect back payments.
Sharing Information on Tenant Databases
There are a variety of website databases that you can use to alert other landlords of bad tenants. Make sure that you look for popular, widely used ones to ensure your information can be found easily. Stick with claims you can support; making claims against a tenant that could damage their ability to find housing could open you up to libel lawsuits if you aren't careful. If you're making claims that could mar a tenant's reputation, it's good to have proof of bad behavior on file. Finally, remember to leave the trash talk at home – posting a rant-filled, colorfully worded review of a tenant who ticked you off might feel great, but it ends up making you look unprofessional.
Building Your Landlord Network
One of the most effective ways to share information with other landlords is to do so directly. Building your network with other local landlords is a good business practice in general, but it can be especially useful when you're dealing with bad tenants. You'll likely share some of the same tenants over time, so having a direct line of contact with other landlords in your area is a solid first line of defense against shoddy tenants. If you're not sure where to start, join a local association to help expand your circle of contacts and meet landlords in your area.
This Tenant Too Shall Pass
It's easy to want to get back at bad tenants for all the stress they've caused you, but the most professional thing you can do is report them using the appropriate outlets and then let it go. Once your old tenant is out of your hair, it's time to start looking for a new one – and hopefully a much better one!
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