According to Lawyers Marco Schiavo & Kenneth Simmons a professional tenant is someone who knows how to take advantage of tenant rights and protections in order to avoid paying rent. A professional Tenant can be a major headache financially and can cause a property owner a lot more money than just missed rent. Schiavo & Simmons list a sequence of events that usual occurs when a professional tenant is trying to avoid paying rent
They make an excuse for not paying first month’s rent and say they will pay last month’s rent and the security deposit when they move into the apartment
They begin complaining about the property within a short time of moving into the property
They complain to the board of health and request inspection. The complaint usually leads to a violation and a need for landlord to make repairs
The tenant refuses to allow the landlord access to the property as the landlord only has a short time to make repairs.
Tenant doesn’t pay rent because repairs are not made
Landlord has to evict tenant which means the tenant doesn’t pay rent until that process is finished and often skips town and avoids paying rent altogether.
The best way to avoid a professional tenant is to stop them before they move in. Richard Verstein, Esq. in a recent article list several ways property owners can spot a professional tenant.
Usually they have a history of litigation, eviction and/ or delinquency with previous landlords so check if they have bankruptcies and or court dockets
They have a deep understanding of local landlord-tenant law and may even have a background in related fields like real estate, engineering or are lawyers. So make sure to interview tenants and get a feel for them.
They often have poor or no credit , and have a history of collections, judgments or bankruptcies, so make sure to check credit history and verify employment.
They have a period of time with no history of rentals, so make sure to go over their rental history and see if anything that does not look right.
They do not have complete or any references from previous landlords so always make sure to call and follow-up with landlord references.
Another aspect that can help is to make sure you have property management software with features that include credit reports and keeps track of important rental based documents that you might need in case of litigation against a professional tenant. Rissoft lease management software allows property owners to run credit reports over the internet from within their program. In addition, with Rissoft management property software document management is easy as one can scan and link important documents into the tenant database for easy retrieval and organization