Author Topic: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?  (Read 4166 times)

Darren

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
My tenants are a young family who rented my detached house back in November. We signed our provincial standard one year lease agreement. Recently, they asked me if they could leave as soon as possible to move back to their home town. I told them we should meet in person to discuss this. I'm not quite sure what the best course of action is. I don't want to be a jerk and force them to stay somewhere if they're going to be really unhappy tenants. But I'm pretty annoyed that we're having this conversation so soon after they moved in based on what they told me when they first applied.

Anyway, this is all pretty recent news. I haven't spoken to them in person yet to find out exactly what the issues are. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has had a similar request and how you dealt with it.

Thanks,

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8474
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Our standard lease stipulates that the tenant owes rent until I can find new tenants.  So far, this has always taken no more than a week so it hasn't been an issue.

But you don't need to be a dick about it.  What are you going to do if they refuse to pay, file an eviction notice on the people who have already moved out?  I would meet with them and tell them you'll relist it as soon as possible, and they will have to pay until the first day of the new tenant's lease.  They can help speed the process along by keeping the property meticulously clean and being flexible about allowing you to do showings.  The more helpful they are, the faster you can re-rent and the sooner they can get out from under their lease.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13739
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Adding to what Sol said - check what your local muni laws allow.  Where we previously lived, a tenant could be 'on the hook' for no more than three months' rent, regardless of how much was left on the contract.  Other jurisdictions will be different.

That said, I try to be upfront and professional with my tenants while staying on good terms with them.  If they break their lease early I'd tell them I will do everything within reason to find new renters quickly, and them having the place 'show-ready' will speed the process.  Alternatively they can find someone to sublet (with my approval) for the remainder of the lease.  I honestly don't like subletting as it gives the renter too much say in who I choose, and I refuse a particular sublet-er it could open up all sorts of arguments (hasn't happened to me personally, but I've heard stories)
You can make them pay rent until a new person has been found, and with-hold their deposit until then.  But TBH if you can't find a new renter in 1-2 months something is wrong with your property (eg listed too high or needs some major renovations).

theoverlook

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 314
I don't know if this is legal in your area, but one place I rented from had a "lease break fee" equal to one month's rent and then the tenant was off the hook. Seems like a good way to handle it. They can move quickly, you can get the place re-rented, and you might even come out ahead a tiny bit.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13739
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
I don't know if this is legal in your area, but one place I rented from had a "lease break fee" equal to one month's rent and then the tenant was off the hook. Seems like a good way to handle it. They can move quickly, you can get the place re-rented, and you might even come out ahead a tiny bit.

My opinion is that life happens, people sometimes need to move suddenly and I don't try to take advantage (though I won't be on the hook either for them breaking their lease).  If my tenants have to move mid April and I can find someone to move in May 1 everyone is happy.  If it takes me an extra month to find a renter (and/or paint and do minor repairs) then the renter is on the hook for that month.  YMMV.

rothwem

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 739
  • Location: WNC
I have a clause in my lease that allows them to pay me an additional month's rent to get out of the lease.  That lease termination fee can be waived if they find a suitable (passes my background checks) tenant to fill their place. 

I recently had a tenant that was offered a great opportunity in another city with 5 month left on their lease, and they found me a great new tenant.  I had less than a week of vacancy and I got the new lease signed for another year.  I was preparing for the worst, but it was the easiest tenant swap I've ever done. 

CowboyAndIndian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1664
  • Location: NJ, USA
    • KOWines: Deep discount wine/spirits store.
The time of year that the tenant wants to cancel is important.

I had one tenant who decided to end the month-to-month in December. I had to wait until March till I found a new tenant. This in a place where I usually got a replacement within a week in the summer.

If the tenant has been good, I would work with him.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8193
  • Location: United States
Our local laws require that the landlord make best efforts to find a new tenant, and that no penalties, fees, or additional rent can be found once a new tenant is found. 

Your jurisdiction is going to greatly influence what you can do here.

Darren

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Thanks everyone. I still need to confirm the exact laws in my province. I believe they are required to provide 60 days notice and there might be a lease breaking fee.

Springtime is coming up so it shouldn't be too hard to find new tenants quickly. I want to work with the current tenants as best I can to find a solution that works for everyone, but I also don't wan to lose out on income due to long vacancies. They're pretty good people so I think we should be able to work something out.

Darren

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
A new twist. I just received a notice from the city that the tenants have not been paying their utility bills and that the city will be shutting off the gas in the near future. I was pretty surprised to hear this. I'm going to meet with the tenants tonight to see what's going on. Has anyone has something like this happen before?

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8474
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2019, 08:09:09 AM »
I have not, but in your shoes I would speak to the tenants just in case it's a mistake, then I would start eviction proceedings and use their security deposit to pay the utility bill.  As a matter of protecting your property, it needs to have services.

Also, it sounds like you ended up with some truly horrendous tenants.  Sorry.  You do have the option of "granting" their request to leave immediately if you just want to be rid of them.  The rental contract can be modified freely as long as both parties want to.  It's only an enforceable document in situations where one party wants out and the other does not.

Darren

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2019, 09:20:32 AM »
Thanks for your support. Yes, I'll speak to the tenants about what's been going on with the utilities in case there is some sort of mix-up. I'll work with the city to ensure bills are paid so that the house doesn't lose service. It's still close to freezing here, so I really don't want to lose heat. I'll work with the tenants to set a move-out date very soon. I have the necessary documents.

So I'm going to look at this whole situation as a learning experience. I wonder if I should have seen this coming. I'd appreciate any comments on my selection of these tenants. I did a full background check on them. They had poor credit, which they were up front about. However, they did have good income and every single reference I spoke to (employer and several past landlords) spoke very highly of them. They were moving from the country to my city and it appeared they were looking for something long term where they could put down roots. Up until this point they have always paid rent on time. However, I wonder if I should have paid more attention to the bad credit red flag. My thinking at the time was that positive references were more important because they speak to the tenants' characters. And I bought their story that they got into credit card debt when life got hectic with a baby on the way, but that now they had a good paying job.



nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13739
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2019, 09:38:38 AM »
Thanks for your support. Yes, I'll speak to the tenants about what's been going on with the utilities in case there is some sort of mix-up. I'll work with the city to ensure bills are paid so that the house doesn't lose service. It's still close to freezing here, so I really don't want to lose heat. I'll work with the tenants to set a move-out date very soon. I have the necessary documents.

So I'm going to look at this whole situation as a learning experience. I wonder if I should have seen this coming. I'd appreciate any comments on my selection of these tenants. I did a full background check on them. They had poor credit, which they were up front about. However, they did have good income and every single reference I spoke to (employer and several past landlords) spoke very highly of them. They were moving from the country to my city and it appeared they were looking for something long term where they could put down roots. Up until this point they have always paid rent on time. However, I wonder if I should have paid more attention to the bad credit red flag. My thinking at the time was that positive references were more important because they speak to the tenants' characters. And I bought their story that they got into credit card debt when life got hectic with a baby on the way, but that now they had a good paying job.

Sounds like you did your due diligence, and sometimes you just get a situation or renters that don't work out.  From what you've described so far these aren't terrible (certainly not worthy of many landlord horror stories I've read) - they've at least communicated with you their intentions and didn't skip town with everything of value after being delinquent for months.

regarding the credit score - eh... I'm of the opinion that most people who are deeply in debt can point to a single 'life-event' as THE REASON why they are in a bad situation, but most of the time the reality is that they were in a precarious situation for years and that one event just knocked them over the edge.  Sure, a child or a medical emergency can push you into a debt spiral, but the financially responsible should always try to LBYM, and unless you are straight out of college you should have some sort of e-fund to fall back on knowing bad things will occasionally happen.  I know, preaching to the choir here...

bottom line - if someone has credit problems that's fine... I know many very fine people who are deeply in debt.  But understand that their financial situation might mean they suddenly can't pay the rent (which is what a deposit is for and why renters pay the next month up front). 

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8474
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2019, 02:25:47 PM »
All of my worst renters have been the ones with the worst credit scores.  I know it's terribly unfair to say, but in my experience a credit score is often a decent proxy for the quality of a tenant.  The kind of person who will deliberately default on debts is very often the kind of person who will default on their debt to you, or destroy your property, or make unreasonable demands and then act entitled about it.  People don't end up with a 500 credit score just from "getting into debt with a baby".  That sort of thing takes years and years of bad decisions piling up, and is often accompanied by an inability to recognize their own mistakes along the way.

Now, I just make 700+ the standard for my rental applications.  I'm open about it when they come look at the place, and some of them don't turn in applications, and that's fine.  They pay the $35 fee for the credit check along with first month's rent and the security deposit.  I don't seem to have problems finding tenants.

monarda

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 861
  • Age: 60
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2019, 10:49:50 AM »
What sol said. We've got a great set of tenants now that we've lifted the credit score threshold.

We do pretty much what sol does. Our cutoff is 700, but might consider those a bit below if there's zero delinquency, and it's just a matter of a tenant using a moderate portion of available credit, but have 100% on time payments.  Our own credit scores have suffered a bit with 30% credit utilization (on 0% promo interest cards). 100% on time payments- so we keep that in mind. Usually there's no need, we've had 750+ scores in our applicant pools the past couple of years.

If your location can bear that cutoff you're in good shape. You'll still get good quality renters if your location makes you drop the cutoff down 10-20 points. Asking for cosigners is another strategy, but we've only needed to do that once.


Darren

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2019, 01:05:48 PM »
Thanks for your input. You guys make a lot of good points. in hindsight, I can see that their credit score does correlate to what I've seen of their spending and money habits. In the future, I'm going to stick to a credit score threshold as suggested. Thanks for your help guys.

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8920
  • Location: the woods
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2019, 01:19:23 PM »
I'm a good, reliable renter who had a crappy credit score for years due to a weird timing issue with one autopay cycle and a closed checking account. There were also a couple late payments on a card my parent took out for me as a teenager to build my credit history, but used themselves. (Thanks!) I have proven my financial stability to at least one landlord with statements from checking/savings accounts, on top of the standard income letter.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8474
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2019, 01:27:12 PM »
I'm a good, reliable renter who had a crappy credit score for years due to a weird timing issue with one autopay cycle and a closed checking account. There were also a couple late payments on a card my parent took out for me as a teenager to build my credit history, but used themselves. (Thanks!) I have proven my financial stability to at least one landlord with statements from checking/savings accounts, on top of the standard income letter.

This sort of story is not uncommon, and shouldn't preclude you from finding a place to rent.  It also doesn't drag your score down under 600 all by itself, though.

I've had tenants come look at a place, hear me tell them that we run a credit check and don't generally rent to anyone under 700 without a good reason, they smile and pay for it and say no problem, and then their report comes back with a 480, a vehicle repossession, and multiple bankruptcies.  You really do have to check, because people will lie right to your face about it.

On the other hand, one of my good friends has a very stable government job and recently declared bankruptcy due to a terrible divorce settlement process.  I'd rent to him with no problems, as long as his monthly payment wasn't going to be more than like 25% of his monthly take-home income.

Both of my properties rent for over $2k/month so I don't generally get applicants who are financially struggling.  Most of them make more than I did when I was working.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 01:31:23 PM by sol »

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8920
  • Location: the woods
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2019, 02:08:47 PM »
I'm a good, reliable renter who had a crappy credit score for years due to a weird timing issue with one autopay cycle and a closed checking account. There were also a couple late payments on a card my parent took out for me as a teenager to build my credit history, but used themselves. (Thanks!) I have proven my financial stability to at least one landlord with statements from checking/savings accounts, on top of the standard income letter.

This sort of story is not uncommon, and shouldn't preclude you from finding a place to rent.  It also doesn't drag your score down under 600 all by itself, though.

I've had tenants come look at a place, hear me tell them that we run a credit check and don't generally rent to anyone under 700 without a good reason, they smile and pay for it and say no problem, and then their report comes back with a 480, a vehicle repossession, and multiple bankruptcies.  You really do have to check, because people will lie right to your face about it.

On the other hand, one of my good friends has a very stable government job and recently declared bankruptcy due to a terrible divorce settlement process.  I'd rent to him with no problems, as long as his monthly payment wasn't going to be more than like 25% of his monthly take-home income.

Both of my properties rent for over $2k/month so I don't generally get applicants who are financially struggling.  Most of them make more than I did when I was working.

It does bring it under 700, which is the common cutoff mentioned. Under 500 with multiple bankruptcies, and lying about it, is definitely a hard pass.

I've never been disqualified from a rental, except for one time when my income wasn't high enough. (NYC Financial District high-rise...) I'm much more worried about finding a place now that I have no employment income, even though my credit score is higher.

Actually, I just checked, and my FICO score is now over 800? That's according to Citibank, which provides the Equifax score monthly. Is that a reliable source for someone checking what a potential landlord would see?

clarkfan1979

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2177
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Pueblo West, CO
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2019, 10:13:44 PM »
This should be a "non-issue" because you need to have specific language for what happens when they break the lease. I have a penalty of two months rent and deposit if they break the lease. It's the maximum allowed for the state laws.

Classical_Liberal

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1170
  • Age: 44
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2019, 02:23:47 AM »
Actually, I just checked, and my FICO score is now over 800? That's according to Citibank, which provides the Equifax score monthly. Is that a reliable source for someone checking what a potential landlord would see?

If it's truly a FICO yes, but usually these credit agencies self checks are Vantage scores, which is a propriety score, not the same thing a lender would see.  Although they are good for "ballpark" estimates.

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8920
  • Location: the woods
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2019, 06:26:00 AM »
Actually, I just checked, and my FICO score is now over 800? That's according to Citibank, which provides the Equifax score monthly. Is that a reliable source for someone checking what a potential landlord would see?

If it's truly a FICO yes, but usually these credit agencies self checks are Vantage scores, which is a propriety score, not the same thing a lender would see.  Although they are good for "ballpark" estimates.

Thank you! It says FICO score so I think I'm good. Can't hurt to do the annual free check of all the agencies though.

SwordGuy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7369
  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2019, 07:44:29 PM »
We had some section 8 tenants a couple of years ago.   They paid their rent on time, took good care of the property, and reported issues needing repair promptly.

They asked to be let out of their lease about 3 months early.    I own multiple houses and I'm not living on a financial razor's edge, where a few month's lost rent would harm me greatly.

I told them to have a merry Christmas and best of luck wherever they are going.

Lest you think I'm just a bleeding heart softy, if I had tenants who tore the place up I would spend more than I could get back from them just to make the bastards pay -- because I can and someone needs to teach them manners and consequences.   That's because maybe the next person whose property they would have otherwise trashed might not be able to afford it.

Rick Imby

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
  • Location: Montana
  • Whatever you are, be a good one--Lincoln
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2019, 05:57:12 PM »
We had some section 8 tenants a couple of years ago.   They paid their rent on time, took good care of the property, and reported issues needing repair promptly.

They asked to be let out of their lease about 3 months early.    I own multiple houses and I'm not living on a financial razor's edge, where a few month's lost rent would harm me greatly.

I told them to have a merry Christmas and best of luck wherever they are going.

Lest you think I'm just a bleeding heart softy, if I had tenants who tore the place up I would spend more than I could get back from them just to make the bastards pay -- because I can and someone needs to teach them manners and consequences.   That's because maybe the next person whose property they would have otherwise trashed might not be able to afford it.

Is that called badassidy? 
I agree with you.

Rick Imby

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
  • Location: Montana
  • Whatever you are, be a good one--Lincoln
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2019, 06:02:56 PM »
I'm a good, reliable renter who had a crappy credit score for years due to a weird timing issue with one autopay cycle and a closed checking account. There were also a couple late payments on a card my parent took out for me as a teenager to build my credit history, but used themselves. (Thanks!) I have proven my financial stability to at least one landlord with statements from checking/savings accounts, on top of the standard income letter.

This sort of story is not uncommon, and shouldn't preclude you from finding a place to rent.  It also doesn't drag your score down under 600 all by itself, though.

I've had tenants come look at a place, hear me tell them that we run a credit check and don't generally rent to anyone under 700 without a good reason, they smile and pay for it and say no problem, and then their report comes back with a 480, a vehicle repossession, and multiple bankruptcies.  You really do have to check, because people will lie right to your face about it.

On the other hand, one of my good friends has a very stable government job and recently declared bankruptcy due to a terrible divorce settlement process.  I'd rent to him with no problems, as long as his monthly payment wasn't going to be more than like 25% of his monthly take-home income.

Both of my properties rent for over $2k/month so I don't generally get applicants who are financially struggling.  Most of them make more than I did when I was working.

It does bring it under 700, which is the common cutoff mentioned. Under 500 with multiple bankruptcies, and lying about it, is definitely a hard pass.

I've never been disqualified from a rental, except for one time when my income wasn't high enough. (NYC Financial District high-rise...) I'm much more worried about finding a place now that I have no employment income, even though my credit score is higher.

Actually, I just checked, and my FICO score is now over 800? That's according to Citibank, which provides the Equifax score monthly. Is that a reliable source for someone checking what a potential landlord would see?

Your old negatives are probably over 7 years old and are now off your score.  I doubt you would have an 800 with any negatives on there.
I use Creditkarma to follow my credit report/credit score.  It is free.   They also have a free email service that will notify you of changes in your score.  They will also notify you if credit has been applied for in your name---if you did not apply then you are being hacked...  Awesome service---I have no connection with creditkarma, just a happy user.

Omy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 632
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2019, 06:22:01 PM »
Our lease specifies that the tenant pays until the new tenant starts their lease - and specifies that they will pay all advertising fees. I agree with sol regarding credit scores. The ONLY challenging tenant I've had was when I decided to relax the credit score requirement a bit because my former tenants would rent for a year and then move out to buy a place of their own. I was hoping that tenants whose credit was not stellar would stay longer. It backfired and I got into a 2 year lease with the tenants from hell. Fortunately, they broke the lease early and we were happy to see them go.

After that experience, I will never believe another reference. Their former landlord gave them a glowing reference to get them to leave his property and move on to ours.


MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8920
  • Location: the woods
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2019, 07:00:24 PM »
Your old negatives are probably over 7 years old and are now off your score.  I doubt you would have an 800 with any negatives on there.
I use Creditkarma to follow my credit report/credit score.  It is free.   They also have a free email service that will notify you of changes in your score.  They will also notify you if credit has been applied for in your name---if you did not apply then you are being hacked...  Awesome service---I have no connection with creditkarma, just a happy user.

Thanks! I used to use credit karma but got scared off from giving my SSN to too many non-critical businesses.

And yes, the negatives were over 7 years ago. I predicted my score would go up, just didn't know by this much!

Sorry to hijack the thread y'all.

partgypsy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4195
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2019, 11:03:21 AM »
About credit scores, there are a few rare exceptions.
I do have a friend who wanted to buy a house, but basically had no - credit score. She used her debit card or checks to pay everything (did not believe in credit cards), did not own a car, and paid her rent by check. When she wanted to get a mortgage she was told she had unsufficient credit to get a loan. She did have to break her own rules and get a credit card and use it for 1.5 years before she bought her house. But she has been and would have been a stellar tenant. She also has a green thumb and the places she rented she kept up the yard and made the landscaping nicer just because she enjoyed it. She's an interesting person. No car use, no cable tv, refuses to buy anything off Amazon, tries to buy local as much as possible, but her choices make her a credit non-entity.

Seadog

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Halifax, NS
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2019, 04:40:05 AM »
Our lease specifies that the tenant pays until the new tenant starts their lease - and specifies that they will pay all advertising fees. I agree with sol regarding credit scores. The ONLY challenging tenant I've had was when I decided to relax the credit score requirement a bit because my former tenants would rent for a year and then move out to buy a place of their own. I was hoping that tenants whose credit was not stellar would stay longer. It backfired and I got into a 2 year lease with the tenants from hell. Fortunately, they broke the lease early and we were happy to see them go.

After that experience, I will never believe another reference. Their former landlord gave them a glowing reference to get them to leave his property and move on to ours.

Out of curiosity, why did you ever in the first place? Ever since about age 20 when employers started asking for references, I was just overwhelmed by the pointless futility of it. Why would someone completely discount what they think about a person whom they've had the chance to talk to and evaluate for an hour or so, at the opinion of a stranger who you don't know, has zero obligation to you, and will never hear from again? Truly if someone provides references, the only thing you can be sure of is that they have friends.

Obviously if you have mutual acquaintances with a duty of care to both of you, the situation is different, but by and large that's the exception.

Perhaps it's just a way to avoid responsibility on the part of the property management/HR? If things go south "well I did everything I reasonably could, checked references, so it's not my fault"?

And like you found out, people are very self interested. Their hierarchy of obligations goes something like myself-> my friends -> some stranger. So a great tenant will likely be called a bad one if it means some landlord can hold on to them, or failing that a friend will happily lie to advance their friends cause at the expense of some stranger they'll never see again (ie you), so once again I just don't get the point of references.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13739
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #29 on: April 13, 2019, 05:17:45 AM »

Out of curiosity, why did you ever in the first place? Ever since about age 20 when employers started asking for references, I was just overwhelmed by the pointless futility of it. Why would someone completely discount what they think about a person whom they've had the chance to talk to and evaluate for an hour or so, at the opinion of a stranger who you don't know, has zero obligation to you, and will never hear from again? Truly if someone provides references, the only thing you can be sure of is that they have friends.

For me, checking references is certainly not failsafe (as the case above makes clear) but still incredibly valuable, both for tenants and for employees.  When I check references I'm testing the validity of the reference giver as much as the applicant.  I google them.  Are they related?  Close friends? Do they have a vested interest in giving a good recommendation (e.g. a landlord wanting to dump a bad tenant?) .
If an applicant has been at the same location for 3+ years that suggests s/he isn't the tenant from hell.  If not, I request the names of previous landlords... the ones who *don't* just want to get him/her out of their properties. 

CowboyAndIndian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1664
  • Location: NJ, USA
    • KOWines: Deep discount wine/spirits store.
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #30 on: April 13, 2019, 07:00:30 AM »

Out of curiosity, why did you ever in the first place? Ever since about age 20 when employers started asking for references, I was just overwhelmed by the pointless futility of it. Why would someone completely discount what they think about a person whom they've had the chance to talk to and evaluate for an hour or so, at the opinion of a stranger who you don't know, has zero obligation to you, and will never hear from again? Truly if someone provides references, the only thing you can be sure of is that they have friends.

For me, checking references is certainly not failsafe (as the case above makes clear) but still incredibly valuable, both for tenants and for employees.  When I check references I'm testing the validity of the reference giver as much as the applicant.  I google them.  Are they related?  Close friends? Do they have a vested interest in giving a good recommendation (e.g. a landlord wanting to dump a bad tenant?) .
If an applicant has been at the same location for 3+ years that suggests s/he isn't the tenant from hell.  If not, I request the names of previous landlords... the ones who *don't* just want to get him/her out of their properties.
+1

Once you let prospective tenants know that you are going to check with present and previous landlords, you may not even get an application.

The most recent landlord may give a good reference just to get rid of a bad tenant. There is no such obligation by any previous landlord to do the same.

I also get a landlord specific credit report which specifies all addresses lived in. It is a major red flag ff their application has missing addresses.

Also, when I am checking employer references, I do not use the phone number provided by the tenant, but get it from public sources, e.g. Google or White pages.

Omy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 632
Re: Tenants want out of one-year lease after five months. What should I do?
« Reply #31 on: April 13, 2019, 12:16:56 PM »

The most recent landlord may give a good reference just to get rid of a bad tenant. There is no such obligation by any previous landlord to do the same.

And that is exactly what happened to my tenants from hell. We gave a technically good review ("they never missed a payment") so we wouldn't be stuck with them forever. We neglected to mention they had dogs who urinated all over the house despite our "no pet" provision in the lease. However, the tenants called to yell at us for giving a terrible review that kept them from getting the house they wanted. At that moment, we realized their previous landlord must have given a terrible review. Eventually they moved on and knew better than to ask us to be a reference.