I’ve got a great little spotlight audio interview and a short You Tube video I found that’s hilarious (if you’re a landlord) below. But first, consider this…
They say you never forget “your first time”.
It must be true. I know I won’t forget mine anytime soon.
The first time I was notably stiffed by a tenant, that is.
(What did you think I was talking about anyway 😉 )
His name was Bryant Finnie…
…and as far as I’m concerned, he FLAT OUT STOLE sixteen hundred bucks from me. In fact, here are the actual numbers…
That’s exactly how it looked when I sent it to the collection agency (who never collected a dime by the way).
I’ll spare you the longer version of my sob story, but suffice it to say that he called me asking for “a little more time”, assuring me he’d have no problem coming up with the money.
I have a soft heart, I admit it. And I was still fairly green as a landlord at the time. So I granted him the grace he asked for, and moreover I really, truly BELIEVED he’d make good on his word.
So I found myself standing in the living room of Moonfall Way a mere 30 days later, with only a few piles of rubbish to greet me.
Bryant had, of course, skipped out at some point, with no word of where he was going or when I’d ever hear from him about paying what he owed. And as you might guess, I never did.
My first, but definitely not my last…
Any landlord with even a little experience knows well that these stories are unfortunately par for the course, especially for newer landlords.
So this certainly wasn’t the last time something like this has happened to me as a landlord. In fact, I’ve had much bigger losses that hurt a lot worse since then.
But you never forget your first and the “special” place it holds in your heart.
Friends don’t let friends rent to deadbeats
How many times have you wished that you could report a bad tenant to warn other landlords?
Frankly I hate knowing that after Bryant Amy Finnie stiffed me in July 2003, they probably took the same mess with them to another rental property, and became the same pain in th neck for someone else that they were to me. In fact, they’ve probably done it a number of times by now.
And for the “mom and pop” landlord (more often the case than not) it only takes one bad tenant to devastate you financially, or even put you out of business entirely.
Now as much as I LOVE watching that video, I think I’ve just discovered a better way to help save the next guy…
It’s an online tenant screening service that compiles information about problem tenants so landlords can make better decisions about who they rent to.
Said another way, it’s a national tenant reporting company — you can search their database by name to gauge whether others have experienced problems with a particular tenant applicant.
The missing link in tenant screening?
Any landlord worth his salt already does a standard credit and criminal background check on all tenants (you do…don’t you?)
But credit reports aren’t fail-safe. Sometimes people don’t have a credit history. In my opinion, you don’t really have the whole picture until you speak to their previous landlord.
But what if a prospective tenant lies and provides a relatives number when asked for references?
Yes, it happens. A lot.
That’s where I see a resource like DoNotRentTo.com coming in. A year’s subscription is only $29.99. That’s the investment for the whole year, not per month. (How much do you spend running ONE credit report?)
And apparently you don’t need to subscribe to enter a listing about a tenant – only to search for a name.
As a member, landlords have unlimited tenant postings and unlimited tenant searches. When posting tenant information, landlords are allowed to enter any comments they feel will best describe their experience with a certain renter. Members can also contact other members via e-mail to help verify certain tenant information when needed.
I was able to catch up with the managing partner of DoNotRentTo.com Joseph Collins and have a short chat with him about the service, including…
- How it came about
- Specifically how it benefits landlords
- What does this service provide that you can’t already get on a credit report?
- What is someone posts incorrect information about a past tenant?
- What’s next in it’s development (a property management tool, discounted background checks, etc), and
- How he answers the objections of a few who are concerned about it’s unregulated nature.
If you think this service might be of good use for you, then here’s my short interview with Joe to help cast a little more light on it for you…
Please share your thoughts about this in the blog comments below…