Don’t just rent to anyone, 6 signs that will help you avoid a problem tenant

Dec 2016 by Aaron Weinstein

The names and locations of this story have been changed for obvious reasons but it is otherwise a true story:

It’s the 6th of September 2016 and I have the pleasure of attempting to rent a beautiful 2 bedroom 2 bathroom inner city condo in Calgary Alberta. I have advertisements on all the usual channels: Rentfaster, Kijiji, Rentch etc. On almost all my ads I try to emphasize the benefits of electronic communication, hinting that email or online submission would be the best but nevertheless the phone rings. I miss it, I am cooking dinner and my phone is still on vibrate. I am now eating dinner and it rings again, I look at it and ignore it. I am eating dinner. 30 mins later it rings again, Sign #1 that this will be a problem tenant…

I answer it, it’s a woman named Sarah, she explains that she loves the unit, she has driven by it and has decided that her, her two children and husband will call it home by the end of the month. She simply needs more room, wants to live at this location, is in need of a rental starting Oct 1st and that she must tell her current landlord asap that she is intending to vacate. She cannot wait even 1 more day to tell her current landlord she is leaving…

Ok ok, right away I wonder why she is telling me so much information, this is Sign #2 that something weird is going on. Times are tough and she has me on the phone so we start going back and forth on when a showing would work. I insist that she comes and see its tomorrow at 6:15pm as I already have a showing booked at 6:30pm. I like to give each showing its own 15min interval and I have a good feeling about the 2nd showing so I might as well let Sarah see it right before.

We agree to 6:15 the next day and yet she goes on:

“So I really love this place, I drove by and its perfect for my family. If you approve me can I bring a deposit right when I see it to secure it for us and do you have any paper work? I’ll have it ready.”

This is Sign #3…. This tells me that she wants me to take her money before I have a chance to figure out who she is.

I explain that I have an application I can send to her and she can complete the sections regarding their personal information before hand to speed up the process.

The Showing

At 5:50 (as I am doing another showing at a building down the street) the phone rings, it’s Sarah. I ignore it and continue on with my showing. Sarah texts “We are at the building; which unit is it.” The phone rings again, it’s Sarah. Sign #4 should tell anyone that this Sarah is not very respectful of your time. At 6 I text her, “Driving, will be there at 6:15pm.”

Sarah is waiting at the front of building with Mac, her supposed husband / baby daddy but no children are to be seen. She’s skinny, respectfully dressed and excited. He stays behind her walking slow, has neck tattoos, knuckle tattoos and some kind of gangsta style pompadour hat thing going on. They view the unit, the entire time explaining how great it is, how great they are as tenants and how long they are intending on living there. Once we get through all the rooms they hand me their application, she explains that he works “on the rigs” (Alberta lingo for guys who work on oil rigs in Northern Alberta) and is currently without work. He is on EI and his company that has total loyalty to him will be employing him again in 2 months after blah blah blah blah blah… She works in used car sales and lists someone with their 1st name only plus phone number as her reference. Both of them have the same current landlord whose name is Melissa.

I go through the rest of the showing robotically. This is the kitchen, it has a dishwasher over there, etc. I tell them I will pass on their application to the forces that be and get back to them tomorrow. I show them to the door just as the 2nd group shows up to view the unit. I say thank you to Sarah, allow the next showing in and shut the door.

The 2nd showing is typical, it goes well but I do not have confidence that they are going to rent it and I have no other current prospects. What do you do? I pick up Sarah’s application and read through it. Alright, maybe I should consider renting to them. After all, if I don’t, it’s likely the unit will be vacant come Oct 1st and the land owner will not be impressed with Rentch Rental Services.

1st thing I do is call Sarah’s employer: a guy named Rob who runs some auto dealership that is not listed online. He answers, he is expecting my call. Rob enthusiastically confirms that not only is she employed with his phantom car dealership but her employment is safe for years to come and she is good, so good, that he is even considering giving her his job once he gets his promotion. She’s that good. Well… Sign #5 sounds like some pure BS so I dig deeper.

Internet time. I type in her full name in Facebook, she comes up. Has some photos of her drinking in bars, nothing crazy but nothing spectacular… I search her name in Google, nothing interesting comes up. I type in her full name in Google again with Calgary at the end, nothing… I search the phone number she is using and bingo! You honestly can’t make this stuff up but there is Sarah making kissy faces, advertising herself as a happy ending masseuse specialist on … Sign #6… That’s at least 3 signs to many.

Glad I checked, though I would have never rented to them from my 1st intuition. Who knows what her true intentions were for the rental.
I wait until 8am the next day and text her: Thank you for your interest but we have chosen to go another direction. I then block her phone number.


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