A caution for landlords


To the Editor:

Last summer I had submitted a Letter to the Editor [Not every tenant is responsible, August 29, 2012] trying to help forewarn others about my experience with bad tenants. It was the middle of April last year that I got my house back from my winter renters. While there are many wonderful people on the Island that would have taken care of my house and respected it, unfortunately that is not whom I rented to. The money that I did get in rental income did not come close to covering the amount I spent repairing the damage done to my house and replacing the stolen items.

I was recently talking with someone who is dealing with a similar situation this year, and my heart was breaking as she told me her story. For that reason, I wanted to send this message again in hopes I can help someone avoid the same horrible experience.

I wanted to share some of the lessons that I learned the hard way, and one is: do your homework before renting to anyone. There were several things that I would strongly recommend.

My previous tenants had poor credit, and I did not give that information enough weight. They seemed like a nice family, and I wanted to give them a break.

Follow up on all information provided on the rental applications and verify the information, including addresses and phone numbers of employers. Never put any utilities in your name. Fortunately, it was only the cable that remained in my name. Had it been electric, I believe they would have remained in my house much longer.

The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. If your tenants can’t get utilities in their name, that is an indication of past problems. Check with local law officials (police, sheriff, courthouse) to find out if they have heard of your prospective tenants. While I was dealing with trying to get my tenants out last spring, I discovered they were well known by the sheriff and the police.

I strongly believe that the vast majority of people on the Island are wonderful, hardworking people. There are a few bad apples, and my hope is you can avoid them.

Ellen Duncan