Friday, April 4, 2008

Red flag warnings to a landlord of a potentially bad tenant.

There are as many indicators that a rental applicant has the potential to become your biggest nightmare tenant, as there are stars in the heavens. Even still, the most "ideal" tenant application can disguise the "Mr. Hyde" that lurks beneath. A person could look great on paper with all of the appropriate qualifications and reference but once they move in, it turns out they are an absolute slob and completely disrespect your property. You may not learn of this from the previous landlord during a tenant history check since most likely that landlord wants that tenant gone. Why would he give you a bad report on that tenant if he wants him out of there as fast as possible?
But let’s address a few issues that could be considered alarming if not completely “red flag worthy.”

They say that first impressions are everything and I have to tell you that when it comes to meeting with tenant applicants, I believe this whole heartedly. If a person shows up to meet you for the first time, and they are disheveled, dirty, lackadaisical and just downright lame, that should certainly be the first sign to the landlord that this may not work out too well. My opinion is that when applying for an apartment, it is as important as applying for a job. Show up on time, look the part of a decent individual and be presentable as a respectable human. NOT someone who just left the halfway house. I have had people literally walk into empty apartment while smoking. SMOKING! I often look into the person's car when they leave. If it looks like a garbage can in there, I take note. If they don't respect their own property, how can they respect the landlord's property as a tenant?

The following are actual lines that I have personally been witness to during the tenant application process.

1.“Let me tell you my situation”- This may be my favorite flare in the sky, falling rock ahead, slippery when wet and do not feed the animals warning of them all. I have heard this particular statement used as an opening time and time again in the 6 years that I have been Mr. Landlord. This little nugget is usually followed by, but not exclusively, numbers 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

2. “I just got out of a crazy relationship and I just need to get my own place.”

3. “I’ve been living at my Grandma’s for the past few years.”- Hmm.

4. “I’ve been looking for a job. I should have something soon. It won’t be a problem.”

5. “I can have half the deposit next week and the rest when my check comes in on the first

6. “What kind of things are you looking for on the criminal background check?” What a great question to ask a potential landlord. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have NEVER had to ask that question to anyone in which I was filling out any type of document for. The alarm that this one sounds is as loud as a tornado horn In the Midwest. Amazing. Any landlord should put red line through this potential tenant.

7. “I can get you my criminal report for you if you like. To save you the money.” No thanks.

8. “ Do you take pets?” When I tell them no, the follow up is the alarm. “Oh, ok. I can leave him with my ___________.”

9. “Do you do a credit check?” This is always a treat. They just give you the information before you even ask.

I am constantly amazed at just how much people will tell complete strangers. Especially to a potential landlord! I have the gift of gab myself, thank you very much, but these people coming in for an apartment sometimes just hang themselves before I can even hand them the rope. If you let them speak, they may tell you EVRERYTHING and then some. I have several tenants that think I am their personal therapist, or hairdresser for that matter. They call me with everything in their lives. But I digress. We will keep that for another post, “Tenant Horror Stories.

Borat Wins In Court

Do you remember that scared man who was running down the street screaming for Sacha Baron Cohen to leave him alone in the movie "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"? He sued 20th Century Fox. His claim was that they unlawfully used his image in the movie. Quite honestly, a very funny moment in the film.

His suit was dismissed by a federal judge in Manhattan. The judge's opinion was that while the film appealed "to the most childish and vulgar in its viewers," it attempted "an ironic commentary of 'modern' American culture." Well said your honor. It was definitely an "ironic commentary of 'modern' American culture".

And thank God we have films that do that. Immature? maybe. Offensive? Sure. But why not? If we can't be a bit goofy once in a while and laugh at each other, AND ourselves, at some point, won't we just go completely batty?

I enjoyed that film and laughed my posterior off with my father and my 2 brothers. That laugh felt great and It's not because I don't like certain religions or races, it's because it was a funny film that poked fun at a bunch of different stereotypes, cultures etc. It took politicians and put them in awkward situations. It took normal people and put them in awkward situations. Sacha Cohen has the ability to take normal people in boring circumstances, and make it completely hilarious. Through his ability to bring out someone's honest nature, he shows us the innocence and vulnerability of people at the same time he is showing us their ignorance. Do you remember the rodeo scenes with the redneck moron talking about how Borat should shave that mustache so he looks less dangerous and maybe more Italian?