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Avoiding Horror Tenants

August 21st 2019

How to prevent becoming a media headline


References: ask for them, and verify them. It’s not uncommon for private landlords to ask for previous landlord references, only to discover down the track that it was a friend who was acting as the “landlord” on the phone.


Get photo id for each tenant. A name and previous address is good, but if you don’t see confirmation of identity you won’t know who is really applying.

* What questions can we ask prospective tenants?


Before you offer the property, have a signed form in which the tenant agrees to a credit check, and do this! Even though it costs to do this search it’s worth it for peace of mind. Don’t rely on someone having a nice car and tidily dressed as evidence they can and will pay rent.


Make sure you know the names and contact details of all tenants who will be living in the house, and if the property is suitable for children ask for names and ages. This is good practice in event of emergency, as well as for inspections. You don’t want to arrive at a property and discover unknown tenants asleep in bed, or aggro because they didn’t know you had arranged to visit.


Have clear terms and conditions for your rental property. If you don’t want pets, make sure this is clear in the advertisement and in the tenancy agreement.


Take the maximum bond allowed in law, (4 weeks), and don’t pass over keys until this is paid in full. If tenants find it hard to come up with the funds, there are now other good tenancy options to allow this to be paid and tenants can also seek help from WINZ


File the bond when due! Don’t hold this back in your own account, there are penalties for landlords who fail to do this.

* Serial failure to lodge bonds earns massive fine


Check rents every week on the due date, and act quickly if not received. If you let this slide you’re relying on good will, which most people will meet but cannot be guaranteed.


Carry out inspections regularly, and take detailed photos before tenants move in, as well as at each inspection during the tenancy. This is good practice for your insurance cover, general checks on maintenance, and ensuring the property is being kept clean and tidy.

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Give proper notification of all visits, including for maintenance. Don’t make the mistake of thinking because you own the house you can “just drive by” regularly, or can “pop in because I’m passing”. Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment, don’t breach this.


Keep detailed records of rent received, records of all notifications and communications with tenants, and maintenance requests and work carried out.