About to sign my FIRST TENANT... Advice? - Posted by Brandon Treat

Posted by Carey_PA on September 23, 2001 at 18:12:54:

to a “Christian” guy and he was 1 week late the first month!!! He never puts the write name in the Pay to the Order of portion of the check…

And he had to buy my mh with no money down because his REAL home was just FORECLOSED on!

Just because they are Christians doesn’t mean they pay their bills or mean they have good credit.


About to sign my FIRST TENANT… Advice? - Posted by Brandon Treat

Posted by Brandon Treat on September 23, 2001 at 10:54:55:

Good morning to everyone,

I am finally about to move in a tenant in a house that I am lease/optioning. As this is the first rental property I have and the first tenant I’ve ever dealt with I would love any advice the experienced ‘land-lords’ reading this might have for a first timer.

I will probably be using the standard ‘residential lease/rental agreement’ from the CS legal forms database. I have agreed to let the tenant spread the security deposit into the first three months, should I make special note of this in some way? I am also leaving 2 brand new ovens, 2 older refrigerators, and a washer and dryer with the property, the lease I’m using has a section to note all appliances included with the property and I will be sure to list them there, but any advice in this regard?

The tenants are an upper-20’s married couple with three children in my three-bedroom house. They have no pets, which I like but I hear in some cases children can be far more devastating to property…

My first couple impressions of the family are very positive, the adults are both ordained part-time ministers at a church they used to attend and are very devout Christians. The house I’m renting is in a decent sized ‘college town’ and I’m certainly more comfortable with the thought of a couple pastors maintaining my newly renovated (and costly!) home than a group of college kids but I still can’t help some of the thoughts that run through my mind.

I’ve been reading and participating on this forum for about two years now I suppose, and in that time I’ve read about quite a number of horror stories related to tenants and landlord situations. I know I have to have a little trust, and live securely with that through the lease and the rules I establish as the management, but I still worry…

In any case, any general recommendations in relation to a first time property manager would be highly appreciated. Any veterans out there that wished someone had told them a few things before they got their start, please tell to me!

Thank you in advance for your time,

Brandon Treat
Southern IL/St. Louis Investor

This site is the greatest… - Posted by Paul_MA

Posted by Paul_MA on September 24, 2001 at 21:41:57:

This site is the greatest…

I, too, am about to enter the landlord world and I am a nervous wreck.

I’ve got a 3 fam that I live in, been making repairs for a while. There is lead paint here, but covered over with new paint.

Did you know that in Mass., a tenant under 6 years of age, who gets lead poisoning from your unit, has 18 years to come back and sue you?

Between here and mrlandlord.com, the reading and learning is priceless.

I plan on spending about 2 weeks screening my first tenants. Not sure what questions to ask to references, but credit check, criminal check, judgement check and eviction check are going to be done with a microscope.

Heck, it seemed a lot easier just buying and selling, but I want consistent income also.

Thanks to all who contribute here.
God Bless America
Paul MA

Always do a credit check and get the security… - Posted by David Krulac

Posted by David Krulac on September 24, 2001 at 07:05:04:

deposit BEFORE the move in, and before you give them the keys. And besides security, the first months rent too.

Re: About to sign my FIRST TENANT… Advice? - Posted by Rich

Posted by Rich on September 24, 2001 at 24:20:06:


I think by now you see the viewpoint of all these experienced landlord’s. Whether you choose to accept all this well given advice is certainly up to you. Remember, all these people know a thing or two about landlording and none of them want to see you get burned, especially your first time out.

If you still have a soft spot and insist on giving your potential tenants a break, then I suggest you alter your arrangements and break up the first months rent into three parts and have them give you 100% of the required secutity deposit. The reason being, you can always evict them, if necessay, if they don’t make good on the “rent payment”. However, you are going to have a very difficult time evicting them for not paying the security deposit.

Think about this: If they can’t come up with a few hundred dollars to pay all the first months rent and security deposit, do you really expect them to make it up over a three month period of time?

Brandon, I wish you the best of luck.


You’re about to get an expensive lesson - Posted by BillW.

Posted by BillW. on September 23, 2001 at 20:55:55:

Nothing personal here, but you need to get a good screening system in place. There are plenty of posts here on how to do this. I’d follow good advice.
I also lost plenty of money on these so called “ministers”. It seems like every splinter group of religion has a bunch of these. Most of them arejust like regular people and need to be screened and treated as such. IMHO it’s a big mistake to believe these “credentials” from these types.
As others have said,
“Better to have a vacant property than a bad tenant”
Also, get the full deposit mount in advance. Let them borrow the money from someone else, like their congregation, or cash america, checks to go, payday loans, etc. Then those people can worry about getting repaid.
Good luck and check everything twice,

Re: About to sign my FIRST TENANT… Advice? - Posted by JohnP SFL

Posted by JohnP SFL on September 23, 2001 at 20:52:51:

I listen to the veterans and I could never do that to someone thats too mean. Hey, I got burn’t a few times and that all change. When I was remodelling an apartment for the second time in a year. I just started to get nasty. I would screen perspective tenants something like this. You don’t have FIRST, LAST and SECURITY? You don’t have two previous land lords you can give me? Then you better beat it before I take my &&%^*frustrations out on your hide. End quote. I did send some people running. The guys doing the work for me would just look and laugh.
DON’T BE SOFT. There is no charity in business. ( I don’t know where I got that from but I like it)


Re: About to sign my FIRST TENANT… Advice? - Posted by Dee-Texas

Posted by Dee-Texas on September 23, 2001 at 20:28:03:

Ever seen the old Dragnet show? The main cop was always saying just the facts Man…that’s what you need to do. DO NOT let them pay out the security deposit. Do a credit report…Christian or no Christian. The only eviction that I had to do was with a woman that went to church everytime the doors were open. She trashed my place…4K worth of damage…When I finally moved her junk to the curb she cussed me and threatened to sue. She immediatly started going to a new church telling all how horrible I was and getting money from them. I found out toooo late that she’s done this many times before. No one ever evicted her, they just repaired the damage and went on when she threatened to sue. That’s why her credit looked decent…
I kicked her @ss to the curb. Let her feed off of someone else.
Just the facts!!!
If they don’t have the money…NEXT…it’s better than 4K in damage.
Best success,

STOP, LOOK, LISTEN - Posted by Dan

Posted by Dan on September 23, 2001 at 18:09:07:

My friend, you are about ot make mistakes that can come back to haunt you.

Here are some suggestions that can help you avoid what I see as imminent danger.

  1. Learn how to screen. To whit, our company does the following checks on ALL prospective tenants…
    ?eviction report
    ?credit check
    ?arrest record
    ?conviction record

We then get copies of their driver license, their last two pay stubs and note the license plate number on their car.

When we call references we do not say how the ref was listed so as to trick potential fraudulent references. We call ALL references, INCLUDING THE JOB and ask many, many open ended questions that are intended to make it easy for the person on the other end of the phone to give more information than is ahem legal (but from their perspective -we can legally ask all we want)

  1. Always require 100% deposit upfront and before you give them a key.

  2. Always require 100% deposit upfront and before you give them a key. _YES, I know I said it twice, I would say it again if I could get away with it here.

  3. Don’t use a standard lease. The lease that is found in most stores looks like it was written by a tenant lawyer. Get one with TEETH! Go to a property owners association and use theirs. The CT Property Owners Association has an awesome lease in the Legal Forms kit that can help a lot. -http://www.ctlandlord.com- They will help in any state.

  4. Photograph the unit while they are in it prior to their moving in. Get them in the picture. This makes claims of your neglect impossible.

  5. Read the lease to them, out loud, and line by line. Let the questions they ask and the issues they raise make you suspicious.

  6. SURPRISE VISIT their current residence. Find some paperwork for them to sign and don’t let them sign it in the hall or on the porch. Get to the kitchen and get them to sign it. Then, help yourself to a glass of water (to see the sink and stove). Moments later, ask to use the bathroom. While there, look at the shower, the seat, the sink and behind the toilet.

  7. Buy the book “Landlording” by Leigh Robinson at landlording .com. It is a virtual bible.

I could write a book on tenant screening myself. These are some of my tricks and I know I went beyond your question but I think that your question stems from a lack of screening knowledge tied to a concern that you will not get the place occupied.

It is better to have a vacancy than a bad tenant.

Hope this helps-Dan

Re: About to sign my FIRST TENANT… Advice? - Posted by Matt

Posted by Matt on September 23, 2001 at 17:07:48:


FWIW, my WORST tenant ever was a Reverend and his wife was an evangelist!! I was too trusting and blame myself but they stiffed me with “lies and deceit” for a long time…all kinds of stories.

My deal was a lease-option…he was NOT to sublease per contract…did anyway. Stopped paying me after several months of late payments (always), a few bad checks…that he’d make right but then the next month was due. I made my share of mistakes here as a novice landlord…didn’t get HIS tenant’s info. and was WAY too kind and trusting of everyone here (should have evicted and cut my losses–but didn’t). This one deal will ensure that I am one real hard-a** landlord to deal with in the future. I just chalk up my $4,000 hit on this “man of God” as tuition and making me a much better landlord in the future. I believe landlording is difficult but a necessary evil to obtain all I want financially out of life. I am now looking at the BIG PICTURE and plan on having MANY SFH’s but will landlord with systems in place to deal with just about every occurance, quick evictions, tough screening policies and essentially dealing with no crud! PERIOD.

My point is that when I saw you were from St. Louis area I had to respond thinking this was the same couple (I’m in St. Louis) and also to warn you from thinking that just because they are pastors that they are free from teaching you a painful financial lesson. In fact, my father has some rental units and would you believe his worst current tenant is also a pastor (late EVERY month!).

Saddens me as a Christian!

Best of luck,


Re: About to sign my FIRST TENANT… Advice? - Posted by phil fernandez

Posted by phil fernandez on September 23, 2001 at 16:36:34:

A few things bother me here with regards to your tenant selection. First, and maybe you did, but you mention nothing about doing a credit check. If you didn’t do one, why didn’t you.

The next thing that bothers me is that you say both are ministers. What’s that got to do about creditworthiness and being able to pay the rent on the first each and every month. You say they are Christians and they are ordained. Again I don’t see why that would be a factor in either renting to them or not.

Base your rental decision on facts, a credit report, former references and an established criteria to rent rather than the fact that some one is this or that they are ordained etc.

FIRST TENANT… One big mistake… - Posted by Tom – IN

Posted by Tom – IN on September 23, 2001 at 15:44:09:

One big mistake here. You are renting a house after obtaining only one third of the security deposit. The chances of obtaining any more security deposit are almost nil. One way to get around this is to raise the rent, (say $50 per month) until the security deposit is paid. But still, what if they move after one month? Or don’t pay the rent the second month and it takes you two months to get them out? How are you going to apply the security deposit to the damages when you didn’t collect the security deposit.

Re: About to sign my FIRST - Posted by Terry (Houston)

Posted by Terry (Houston) on September 23, 2001 at 18:46:21:

My nice Pastor that I was selling a house on a L/O put me off for about 3 weeks. When he finnaly said he would not close he demanded the Non Refundable Optioon money back.

Demanded that it was due him though he read and signed all of Bill’ contracts.

He said “You will hear from my lawyer.”

I guess the lawyer thought Bill’s paperwork was in order as I never heard back from him.

FACTS FACTS FACTS, and a good deal of money go a long way.


MAN, I wish I was able to go fishing with you, NExt year??