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Dutchess_III's avatar

Should landlords be required to give a 30 day trial to new tenants before the lease is legally binding?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42452points) September 28th, 2014

This question was prompted by another question about other tenants behaving badly, and no one is doing anything about it.

If, by law, landlords had to allow the tenant to live there 30 days before the lease became binding, so the potential renter can find out if there is some compelling reason not to stay, I think they’d be more prone to take action against bad tenants AND to fix things.

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23 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I think that’s something that is needed. Most places I rented from did nothing but try to extort money from the tenants. Every time the lease came to an end the rent went waay up. It was a rare thing to get your deposit back. When I was doing the apartment thing my solution was just to move after the end of each lease. I would just amortize the deposit as a total cost in the monthly rent when figuring out where to rent from. Renting is a lot of freedom because you are not chained to the property but you don’t have many rights either.

dappled_leaves's avatar

“allow the tenant to live there 30 days before the lease became binding”

I certainly wouldn’t want to live as a tenant in any region where this was law. If I sign an agreement, I expect it to be upheld. Where are my rights as a tenant in such a situation? What if I paint, clean, and move everything in, and then the landlord decides to double my rent? This is a terrible idea.

Anyway, in the question you’ve linked to, the problem is apparently not that the landlord can’t do anything, it’s that the landlord won’t do anything. Your suggestion would do nothing to solve that problem.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^^^ Good points! So, let’s refine it: the proviso would specify that it was strictly to allow the tenet to identify any problems that would make living there an impossibility.

rojo's avatar

No, that is why most landlords give you a check list upon move-in so that you have about a week to identify problems or deficiencies that need to be addressed. As for trouble-making tenants, part of the problem we have getting rid of them is that the laws are written in the tenants favor and make evicting them a long, drawn out process with a lot of paperwork. The ones who are adept at gaming the system know this and use it to their advantage.

And besides a “prospective tenant” can do an awful lot of damage in 30 days particularly if they know they are not planning on staying. You want 30 days, go stay in a hotel.

True, there are those I would just as soon not rent to and I have had a few that I did not renew their lease but our pre-lease process and high security deposit winnows out most of the ones who are going to be trouble. But, you can’t weed them all out especially students.

You would be surprised at how many people who call me looking for a place to live decide they are not interested when I tell them that our deposit is a full months rent and that we do a credit check and a background check on each occupant. Heck, I have had them back out because of the $30.00 per tenant application fee and this goes directly to the company that does my checks for me; I make nothing off of an application. Those that do stay know that all the others around them have gone through the same process and passed.

Another red flag is someone who comes to me and wants a place immediately. Usually there is a reason for this and most of the time it has to do with needing to get out of somewhere else before they are evicted or forced to pay all the back rent they owe.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@rojo Where I live, potential tenants would certainly back out due to deposits and application fees – because it is illegal for a landlord to request those here.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sad I can only give one GA @rojo. Especially since you found a demon for me.

I’m amazed that my landlord let me move in when I did. I had a bachelor’s degree in eduction, but no job. I had 3 kids, and one was 16 years old and pregnant. I told him all of this and he still let me move in!

Eventually found out he was a slum lord and made money off of suing tenants who didn’t pay their rent. I’m sure he thought that’s what he had in me.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@rojo I have had my own reservations about renting out places for that very reason. Way too many “tenant from hell” stories from folks I know who have. I’ll probably end up doing it though.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
rojo's avatar

@dappled_leaves FWIW our application fee only covers the cost of running the background and credit checks on the prospective tenant; I make nothing on it.

As for the deposit, we are high to winnow out those who are likely to be a problem down the line. If you can’t afford the deposit, chances are I am going to have problems collecting rent somewhere down the line.

I cannot speak for other landlords but I return the vast majority of my tenants deposits. I only ask that they leave it as they found it (barring normal wear and tear). You were given the apartment in a clean condition with working light bulbs and smoke detectors, give it back to me the same way; and I don’t consider stained red carpet or holes punched in the wall normal wear and tear and will charge you for that just like I will charge you to clean the stove and oven if you don’t do it. It was clean when you moved in.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@rojo I’m not really interested in critiquing your character as a landlord. My point was that, in this province, at least, those specific practices have been deemed unethical and classist. Hence, they are against the law. To you, I’m sure it seems like a sensible precaution. But as @Dutchess_III pointed out, it could make it impossible for even law-abiding people to find housing, depending on their situation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think it a reasonable precaution. I don’t think it’s classist at all.

I’m trying to sell my 63 Volkswagen. Dude responded asking if I’d take payments. I said “No.” If he can’t get a loan for $3500, there is a problem.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III Not really an appropriate analogy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

To me it is. If the person who wants to rent from @rojo can’t come up with a deposit, then he’s probably going to have trouble getting his rent.
In my case, if the guy doesn’t have the credit to get a mere $3500 from the bank, or from some other source, then I probably wouldn’t get my payments.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III “To me it is.”

No, really??

It’s not an appropriate analogy because the person making an offer on your car does not have rights in the same way that tenants have rights. The need for a roof over one’s head is not equivalent to the need/want for a car. Thus, the agreement that you and your buyer draw up is not arbitrated by the same type of code. Tenants’ rights exist because systematic discrimination by landlords necessitate them. I doubt that there are many people being oppressed by used car salesmen.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@rojo is talking about possible tenants, not existing tenants, with tenant rights. If a person can’t come up with a deposit, rojo will reject them as a tenant. If the guy can’t come up with $3500, I reject him as a buyer.

As for the deposit, we are high to winnow out those who are likely to be a problem down the line. If you can’t afford the deposit, chances are I am going to have problems collecting rent somewhere down the line.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Cost prohibitive.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^^^ They’d still have to pay the rent for the month, and the deposit.

jca's avatar

A tenant could still be on best behavior for the 30 day trial period, and then become “tenant from hell” when the trial ends.

rojo's avatar

What about utilites, cable, internet, etc. You set these up and after a month either you or the landlord says this isn’t gonna work and here you are doing it all over again next month. And let us not forget the distinct possibility that they would “forget” to pay these bill or leave no forwarding address. Too many problems

Another thing not being considered here is the actual rent in the area being discussed.

For instance here, where I live (duh), the average 1 bedroom apartment is approximately $550.00/mo, a two bedroom runs about $650. In KC Mo. I understand a 1 br will run about $800 while in San Francisco it will run over $3000/mo.

What are the rents like where everyone else lives?

Dutchess_III's avatar

The tenants get the utilities in their name, so if they don’t pay, that follows them, not the landlord. The hassle of disconnecting them and reconnecting them should actually be a deterrent to vacating for BS reasons. I mean, JohnPowell would probably gladly disconnect / reconnect to get away from his neighbors. ALL of those reasons would be a deterrent, @rojo.

Here you can get a decent one-bedroom for $450.

jca's avatar

Where I live, a one bedroom is about $1200–1500 per month, minimum. Studio is about $1200 a month.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Holy crap! Glad I don’t live there!

I got SO lucky when I sold my house in Wichita in 1995 and moved here to start over. I got an 1800 sq ft apartment (it was really the ground floor of a 3 story, square house, built in 1900. When you walked in to the front door you were in the big living room. In front of you was a fireplace. Beside the fireplace were a set of French doors leading to a huge dining room. There was a smallish kitchen and bathroom, but 3 good sized bedrooms. There was a second set of French doors leading to the 3rd bedroom, but that room was more like a parlor than a bedroom. It was huge. Deep and wide front porch. It was also kind of torn up because the landlord is a slum lord.
By the end of the 3rd month it looked like a completely different house inside. I patched and painted. I even put down new linoleum in the kitchen at my own expense. When we moved it the kitchen had carpet. It smelled strongly of urine. I tried steam cleaning it, but that made it even worse. I wasn’t going to put one dish in that kitchen with that carpet in there, so I ripped it out!
Took another year to come up with the $ for the linoleum, but the bare plywood was better than the carpet.
ANYWAY, it was only $350 a month.

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