Tristan is a shareholder with the law firm of Petrie+Pettit and focuses his practice in the area of landlord-tenant law representing landlords and property management companies throughout Wisconsin.
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Screening Prospective Tenants Is a Must --- That Includes Commercial Tenants
Those of you that have attended my seminars or read prior blog posts of mine are well aware that in my opinion screening prospective tenants is the single most important part of landlording.
These sentiments apply to commercial tenants as well as residential tenants. Just because your tenant is a corporation, LLC or some other business entity does not make make them legitimate.
A corporate tenant can also fail to pay rent, damage your property, and otherwise be a nightmare. In fact some tenants can hide behind an empty shell of a corporation (or partnership or LLC) and actually turn out to be a commercial tenant from hell.
I was recently interviewed by Colleen Henry of Ch. 12 News about one such "professional" tenant from hell. This tenant moved her business into her landlord's rental unit and refused to move out even though she had not paid rent for months. She bounced her check for the security deposit. She bounced her check for the 1st month's rent. She refused to make any other rental payments. She ignored her landlord's pleas to pay rent or move. Once her landlord began the process to evict her, she filed bankruptcy. By doing so all creditors, including her landlord, were precluded from attempting to collect from her (including the filing of an eviction action against her) until they received permission from the bankruptcy court. And this wasn't the first landlord that this tenant did this to. She had done this to landlords before.
Tenants such as this one make good landlords want to get out of the business.
My recommendation to landlords who are or have been in this difficult situation is not to give up and get out of the business but rather take the time to educate yourself about landlord tenant law so that you are better equipped to handle such a situation in the future. Chances are the better educated you are the better chance that you will not rent to the tenant from hell because you will have learned enough to know that you ALWAYS, ALWAYS must screen your tenants before signing a lease and/or handing them the keys to your property.