Real Estate Investing

Scammy Tenants 101: An Investor’s Guide to Spotting, and Avoiding Shady Renters

Scammy tenants are just as bad as scammy contractors.

Have you ever heard of Mark Newton of New Jersey? If you have not, picture this: a smooth-talking tenant with an uncanny knack for living rent-free, exploiting legal loopholes, and leaving a trail of havoc in his wake.

Mark was no run-of-the-mill rent-dodger. His modus operandi? Trash the house, overstay without paying a dime, leaving landlords grappling with the mortgage. A property investor’s nightmare, right?

So let’s roll up our sleeves and delve into this tale of caution, uncovering practical tips to help you avoid your very own Mark Newton encounter. 🧐

The Tenant from Hell: Mark Newton

Mark Newton, the dodgy tenant who made New Jersey his playground, was the master of exploiting the system. Overstaying his welcome without paying rent, trashing properties, and using an in-depth understanding of tenancy laws to his advantage.

He became a veritable phantom, causing many an investor to lose their property when they couldn’t cover the mortgage. He was a true Trojan horse in the world of rentals.

1. Knowledge is Power: Know Your Laws

To protect yourself from crafty tenants, arm yourself with knowledge of local and state laws. The laws governing landlord and tenant rights vary from state to state, so you need to understand them clearly.

For instance, investors in New Jersey need to be well-versed with the New Jersey Anti-Eviction Act, which offers tenants an array of protections against eviction.

Don’t let that intimidate you! When you’re familiar with the laws, you’ll be less likely to be outfoxed by a tenant who uses them for mischief. If necessary, hire a real estate attorney. Trust me, the investment is worth your peace of mind.

2. The Power of Screening: Vet Your Tenants

Do not, and I mean do not, overlook the tenant screening process. Gut feelings won’t cover mortgage payments when things go south. Insist on a background check, references, proof of income, and a credit report.

Make sure to follow up on these. References, in particular, can give you an in-depth understanding of a potential tenant’s reliability and character.

3. Preventative Measures: Maintain Your Property

Good ol’ Ben Franklin said it best: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Avoid tenants who may use fictitious maintenance issues to dodge rent by keeping your property in tip-top shape. Regular maintenance and thorough record-keeping can provide a robust defense against such fraudulent claims.

4. The Devil is in the Details: Document Everything

Keep a record of every interaction with your tenant, from the initial lease agreement to emails about maintenance requests. Comprehensive documentation is your best ally in a dispute. If you end up in court, these records could be the game-changer.

5. Keep it Cool: Stay Professional

Above all, remain professional. Dealing with a scammy tenant can be taxing, but remember, you’re running a business. Promptly respond to issues, maintain open lines of communication, and keep your cool. Your professionalism can turn the tides in your favor if things go haywire.

Don’t let the Mark Newtons of the world deter you from your real estate investment goals. With a strong understanding of the law, rigorous tenant screening, regular property maintenance, thorough documentation, and a touch of professionalism, you can protect yourself from scammy tenants and continue to thrive in your real estate ventures. Remember, forewarned is forearmed!

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By Dee Lewis

Dee Lewis is the VP of Marketing and Operations for The Funding Clinic; a visionary role in which she puts her experience to use helping businesses reach their goals with effective marketing strategies. From building automations to producing content, Dee stands out as a creative problem-solver who loves what she does.
When she's not working, Dee enjoys spending quality time with her husband and their two furry friends, Sugar and Spice.

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