Our blogs here at Gulf Coast Property Management have definitely started to tackle some of the more sensitive material we need to cover as part of our series on crisis management for landlords. As a provider of Bradenton property management services, we knew that after covering the topic of evictions, we absolutely had to dive into one of the most important things you can do to prevent it: thoroughly screening your future tenants.
If you've never thought about your screening process as your first line of defense, we're here to shed some light on why the earliest steps you take as a property owner can shape the entire lifecycle of your Bradenton rental property. Everything depends on the renter that you entrust your rental home to.
That said, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our community on an unprecedented scale:
- Reliable renters that usually make their payments on time suddenly find themselves struggling to make ends meet.
- Unemployment is high, jobs are furloughed, and hours at non-essential businesses are suddenly nonexistent.
- Tempers may flare in close-quarters living situations as people find it increasingly difficult to leave their homes.
- Food insecurity has skyrocketed, leaving many to turn to charities and pantries to meet demand.
Interestingly, these conditions are not unique to COVID-19—even while the rest of the nation may be feeling these hardships more acutely right now. As a state that sees plenty of hurricanes come our way—and as Bradenton property management experts—we know that a crisis can present itself in many different forms. We also know that such crises tend to bring out either the best or the worst in people.
With this in mind, we wanted to approach how property owners should plan to screen new renters during a time of crisis.
A quick note: The following article is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you need immediate help with a pressing issue concerning your tenants, turn to a competent attorney or Gulf Coast Property Management for real-time assistance!
Reacting Logically by Screening Thoroughly
We know that many of you out there are feeling the pinch right now:
- As an investor, you may be relying on income from your rental properties to make ends meet if you've lost your job.
- With a vacant property, you may be tempted to accept any renter who puts in an application right away.
- You may overlook red flags that would normally stop you in your tracks to ensure you can pay your own bills on time.
With an increasing number of scammers taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis, it's crucial that you do not let financial panic overwhelm your decision-making process when screening your future renters. We know that the impacts of the novel Coronavirus will have far-reaching consequences—but so does placing a risky 'Professional Tenant' as part of a knee-jerk reaction to your vacancies during a crisis. More than ever before, you must screen thoroughly.
Here's what to watch out for when finding your next resident in Bradenton to avoid becoming yet another victim in a long line of successful scams.
Your Property Is a Prime Target in a Crisis
When emotions are running high—and finances are running low—that's when Professional Tenants swoop in to take advantage of your rental properties. A suspension on evictions is meant to protect trustworthy renters who would be happy to make their payments if they could—but to Professional Tenants (also sometimes referred to as 'Serial Squatters'), this is a playground. If you can't evict a Professional Tenant, you need to ensure they never gain access to your properties in the first place.
Working with a professional Bradenton property management company can often offer you the protection that you need when it comes to your screening process and placement. An expert will leave no stone unturned when it comes to investigating an application.
This is often where many DIY property owners fail—and end up on the line for thousands of dollars after a Professional Tenant has had their way with your rental properties rent-free. If you choose not to work with a skilled Bradenton property manager, then your due diligence is what stands between you and a scam. As the property owner, you cannot afford to neglect a thorough screening process that includes actually checking the information given to you on an application.
What to Watch out For
Professional Tenants often know their way around the law—and like any scammer, they are good at telling you what you want to hear or playing off of your fears as a property owner. Offering cash upfront if you agree to look the other way on an application is a move they often try—even when property owners aren't feeling the financial pressure of a pandemic or other crisis.
No matter how attractive a 'cash offer' to rent your properties may seem, as a Bradenton property management company, we always recommend that you investigate the following:
- Investigate credit history using an FCRA-certified third party screening service to protect yourself as the property owner.
- Perform a background check, employment history, and employment verification deep-dive using the information you collect on the application with a capable screening service or using an online database.
- Look for current delinquency, a history of late payments, and broken leases by getting in touch with former landlords as needed.
It's important to keep in mind that COVID-19 is about to dramatically reshape the rental history of many renters across the nation. In April, many renters had trouble making their rental payments—and we can only imagine the same is true right now in May. When it comes to a Professional Tenant, you're not looking for isolated events: a history of repeated evictions, late payments, and falsified application information pre-crisis are signs to move on.
With the difficulties facing current renters in mind, it's more important than ever that property owners in Bradenton have a sound strategy for managing their rentals during a crisis. If you haven't implemented a plan yet, starting now can shelter you from some of the economic aftershocks headed our way—even as states plan to reopen.
A great place to start is by downloading your free copy of our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook! These tips from the experts in Bradenton property management can help guide you during this time of uncertainty and round out your future crisis preparedness plans.