Dealing With Professional Tenants

Professional Tenants Understand the System

If you aren’t familiar with the term, you would think a professional tenant is just someone with no intent on ever owning and intending on staying a tenant forever. Talk to a landlord who has had a professional tenant and it’s an entirely different story.

I don’t know if it’s the state of the economy over the last couple of years, or just how people are changing, but I’m talking to more and more landlords who are dealing with tenants who understand the system so well, they work it to get months of free rent. These tenants have gone pro at abusing the system and using whatever methods they can to take advantage of sympathetic landlords and either avoid being evicted or simply stall and drag out the eviction process and in doing so stay rent free for as long as possible.

Now we aren’t talking people who are simply down on their luck, these are individuals who simply know the system so well they can stall, intimidate and even scare landlords into allowing them to stay longer. And since morals seem, to have little to do with it, they have very little problems lying about anything along the way.

On the simpler side I’ve had landlords tell me of tenants lying in court about receiving eviction notices to the extremes where one tenant had his niece move in (without the landlord’s consent) and told the landlord if he didn’t leave him alone he would have the niece charge him with sexual assault. What type of individual would do that, never mind even think of it?

I now have dozens of different stories I have heard from landlords that range from basement suite tenants disabling water and power to faking medical issues to cause delays. Earlier this week a landlord who lived in the upper suite of his property informed me his basement suite tenant jammed his locks so the landlord couldn’t even get into his own residence!

The problem is once landlords have these types of tenants in place the only option is to go through the process of evicting them. Since they are so well versed on the process they know exactly how to create a string of appeals and objections for the hearing process , and additional stalls and questionable tactics along the way. Without proper coaching, this can result in weeks and months of frustrations and delays before you get control of your property back. (Self promotion time! I do have a guide to evictions available at this site, The Alberta Eviction Process)

You see the biggest problem is they managed to get in the property in the first place. Unfortunately, the majority of the time, this seems to occur to landlords who took shortcuts when it came to filling their vacancies. This could mean not calling all the references, not verifying previous rental history or simply because they tried to help someone out who appeared to be down on their luck. Whatever the case, once they have been let in the property, it’s too late.

Now there is no guarantee by doing all the due diligence prior to letting a tenant in that you still cannot get stuck with one of these professional tenants, but it can drastically reduce the odds of it happening. Even by simply mentioning in your advertisements that you do credit checks will typically be enough to discourage many of them from contacting you. They understand there are easier pickings out there and that is whom they prefer to target.

As a landlord, it is in your best interest to ensure you have the best possible tenants in place and that you do everything to check into the people who will be staying in your property. Good tenants will make being a landlord enjoyable and profitable, bad tenants will just cause you frustration, so do your homework and be a happy landlord!

Investor’s Perspective – Screening Tenants

A bad tenant can cost you a month of rental income, a bad professional tenant can cost you several months and thousands in expenses. It makes the hour or two you have to spend properly screening tenants and completing your due diligence rather inconsequential, doesn’t it.

Not all tenants are out to screw you, in fact the majority are good people and if you have good properties you will find these people or they will find you! Neglecting to properly screen just opens the potential door for the wrong people to enter.

The majority of the stories I see on my eviction site all have to do with tenants who would never have passed a strict screening process. Unfortunately most of the landlords I have talked with let their emotions rule the process rather than the systems and this can be the fastest path to problems for any real estate investor.

If you plan on running your real estate like a business you need to create procedures, checklists and processes that will specifically protect you from bad tenants amongst other things. I’ve already created a free guide to screening tenants for my readers, but I am also working on a new product which will help landlords find quality tenants.I’ll be looking for a few proof readers who will receive free copies of the book/guide, so if this interests you let me know!

I don’t have a time frame for when it will be done, but feel free to pressure me!

About admin

Bill has been investing in Calgary Real Estate since 2003 and has been writing about various Real Estate topics since shortly after he started. With a significant amount of Real Estate transactions and experiences he is able to pass his knowledge on to other investors and partners, and now you through his Real Estate blog. To automatically receive new posts, be sure to sign up on the top right of this page and I will send you a free ebook on Screening Tenants.
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13 Responses to Dealing With Professional Tenants

  1. Heather says:

    Thanks, Bill; very timely. Just reviewed your screening tips, since I am in the midst of doing just that currently. I’m amazed at how much you can learn about someone from a quick internet/facebook search, based on caller ID. If only prospective tenants knew how much I knew about them before we even meet (if they even get that far)! Looking forward to your quality tenant guide. I always learn something from your posts.

  2. Bill Biko says:

    Hey Heather, glad I had such good timing for you! I love doing quick Google searches on potential tenants, it is amazing what you can find!


  3. K taylor says:

    I am lucky I have never encountered a truly professional tenant. Yet I have been renting rooms for 3+ years and I have certainly encountered some bad ones.

    I think I will write my own page about the different types of tenants… because I have a lot of experience as roomshares do a lot of turnover.

    You are correct in your article that there are truly awful professional tenants. But there are landlords like me who suffer because we dont know exactly what to do with problematic tenants especially in roomshares and this extraolates into self contained units because they are the same sort of people.

    If you want me to write your article for you on this topic let me know.

  4. Bill Biko says:

    Hi K,

    The professional tenants seem to occupy the normal rental space more than renting rooms. The good ones (or the bad ones really), just understand the system so well they simply know how to work it to their benefit and it’s to their benefit to rent out bigger spaces since they don;t intend on paying anyway.

    I would be very interested in seeing an article from you about roomshares and different tenants, I too rent rooms out and it may be helpful to share some ideas. Just a quick hint for you, if you are renting rooms out of your own home you may have an advantage you weren’t aware of. I see you are in BC, so you may want to verify this, but in Alberta if you rent rooms out of your own home the tenants fall under the Innkeeper’s Act versus the Residential Tenancy Act. This gives you considerably more power when it comes to dealing with bad tenants.

    I have an article about it on another site I have and it is available right here, Innkeepers Act versus Residential Tenancy Act , again this is in regards to Alberta, but you may want to see where you may fit in BC.



  5. Maryann says:

    THANK YOU FOR ALL THE INFORMATION ! ! I felt sure I’d find someone online somewhere who had blogged about a messy eviction here in Alberta; I’m so happy someone like you chose to do so – someone eloquent, informed and organized!! Very helpful information. It’s nice to know that we are not alone in our nightmare (in fact, our nightmare is not half as bad as what others are reporting, yikes)! I’m quite sure we have a professional tenant on our hands; and yes, it’s our fault for not doing due diligence (we live in a small town, who would suspect??), but it’s been way more hassle than anyone has a right to!

    Anyway, I do have a question, if I may. I’m just trying to get prepared for worst-case scenario, which I’m sure we’re in for. After all is said and done (or not done, in the tenant’s case), and we finally get our “Writ of Possession,” are we going to be required by law to hire a bailiff, or can my husband just try to enforce the Writ himself? Basically, is a bailiff legally necessary, that’s what I’d like to know at this point. We were quoted $600 for a bailiff this morning by one outfit in Calgary, because we live in a small town at least an hour away from any major centre. If we can avoid the expense, that would be good…

    Thanks again for all your help!

  6. Bill Biko says:

    Thanks for the comments Maryann. You’ll also find more information on a sister site I have called You might want to visit that site as well and register for the information there. I send out some information on the eviction process via email and I also send a series of tips to help you screen and attract better quality tenants next time around!

    Unfortunately for that last step you do indeed need to hire a bailiff. In the city it is typically $400, but they are likely charging you $100 each way for travel time. Hopefully they are gone before it comes to that.



  7. Maryann says:

    Thanks for your help and all the information – I registered earlier today. I agree with you, I hope our renter is gone before it comes to hiring a bailiff; I’ve gotten two quotes now from two different civil enforcement agencies and $600 was actually the cheaper of the two.

    My only other question is, is there no way to stop these ‘professional tenant’ types from carrying on indefinitely ? Can we not report them in any way, anywhere? We are not trying to get a penny from our renter. We just want her gone, so all we’ve applied for is recovery of the premeses. And yet in a way, she’s kind of ‘stolen’ from us. There’s really nothing – no laws, etc. – in place to punish such people? I pity the people she rents from next!!

  8. Bill Biko says:

    Hi Maryann,

    The only way to stop them is to not allow them into your property in the first place. That doesn’t mean you won’t eventually run into trouble and a tenant who cannot pay, but it reduces the risks which is what it’s all about. There are ways of getting judgments attached to the tenants credit ratings, but usually they end up being rather ineffective as once their credit is shot they usually don’t try and get back on track.

    First and foremost for landlords who run into this is to get control of their property back and get the bad tenant out. Worst case consider this an expensive seminar on why you need to do your due diligence on tenants!

    P.S. If you register for this site I actually send some information out to you about screening tenants. Of course then you also start receiving posts from this site as well, but you can cancel that at any time.

  9. Marilyn Phillips says:

    Have a professional tenant who is overholding because they refuse to move – caused, and are still causing thousands of dollars in damage to the premises, and the hearing officer at RTDRS believed their lies that they were not informed until July 5 that the lease was not going to be renewed (they were told on June 1) and she made a decision that they had every right to expect that their lease would be renewed since they were not told until after the lease had expired! Oh man! do you have a brain in your head????? They have been given carte-blanche to knuckle down and really destroy the property in the next two weeks.

  10. If you are looking for an inexpensive Bailiff service, try Alternative Bailiff in Calgary. They will tell you if it’s worth seizing property and they charge less than the other organizations. They also offer a distress call service, they only charge about $120.00 and they basically arrive at the tenants property and explain what they can do, and demand payment immediately. This will usually work with most tenants who have the money, they just don’t feel like paying it. But also keep in mind, you can’t issue a 14 day notice to terminate for non payment you can only do one or the other… therefore you have to decide if its worth a Bailiff or not…

  11. D. Kim says:

    Today I was at a settlement hearing with my current tenant . It has finally dawn on me that he is a professional renter. Not only that he has not paid any rent for the past 3 months , repairs for the severe damage to my property, today he has asked for us to waive all the back rents plus another 4 months of stay without charge. I guess we are very down on luck to first trust a irresponsible leasing company AMSI to do the screening and to let a human garbage to live in my property. He know the system to abuse it. We the hardworking people in the end have to suffer -pay for all the damages he have done and to let him live there rent free. We lost a lot of our hard earning money. Why is the legislative process in SF set up to help these human trash who has nothing to lose? there is no such thing as justice and fairness. I don’t know who is the next victim as I bet he is looking for another rent free place. Please do me a favor. Tweet , share and email . Please screen your tenant properly and don’t use AMSI San Francisco as your leasing agent

  12. Rick says:

    It is very interesting to see these comments coming from the landlords. I was looking into this subject as I am currently a renter and my career in the oilfield took me from making a decent income of approx. 160000 as a welding inspector/ consultant to not knowing when my next dollar will come in. I started making this kind of money after your houses doubled and tripled overnight (which must be really nice). My first guess here is that most of you landlords are definitely baby boomers, but don’t get me started on that subject. I rent now but I’m certain I’d have at least 5 rental properties if I was born to the easy times. Now you can all argue that things were the same but I don’t listen to nonsense only factual information and statistics because I’m not a baby boomer. Back in the good old days you pretty much had to plan to fail. You people sit on here and paint people as “professional tenants” when some may just be on the verge off homelessness and scared and don’t know what to do. Ever thought of that? Currently it’s Dec 2016 in Calgary Canada and I am sure that there is quite a few rentals sitting open. The place I moved into sat empty for 7 months before we moved in so the landlords can look at that fact as well. So I plan on keeping my family in this house as long as I can. Its winter, its 20 days from Christmas and I dont even have any Christmas presents for my kids. The government won’t help me because I made too much last year so that’s great. Family wont help because they are baby boomers and “they did it” or “everyone is in the same boat”. Work hard they said. Get a good job they said. Little did they tell us the American or Canadian dream was only around for them. I know there’s a few younger people that are fine but it’s luck. It’s that there career s didn’t disappear, or it was mommy and daddy helping them out. I worked so hard, sometimes for 100 days straight. Now I know we are always going to need certain jobs but when you get involved in a specialized career and it disappears wtf? I wouldn’t have started a family if I knew I had to get a 12 dollar an hour job. Which I can’t get by the way because I’m over qualified, it’s not that “I’m too good for a lower paying job”. All I can do is take the little shifts I get until hopefully praying to God so something comes along in my area. I have a wife, two kids and three dogs. So I figure I’m going to do what I have to do. I have been in this resisdence for a year and a half and haven’the missed a months rent yet just so you know. Thanks have a great day!

  13. Bill Biko says:

    Wow Rick, not sure if you read the actual article or are just jumping on the comments. Either way, since you like facts, it was easier to buy property years ago, but at the same time if someone bought in the 80’s they had to go through several recessions so there were challenges. If you bought int he 90’s you dealt with flat prices for years, if you bought in the early 2000’s you timed it just right, mid to late 2000’s many investors and homeowners lost everything. So it really depends on a) a bit of good timing b) knowing what you’re doing and c) planning for the down times.

    If you were making $160k a year that was exceedingly beyond a good income, that was a great income and provided a huge opportunity for you to plan ahead and set money aside in case the world changed. I think the challenge of the millennials and the non-baby boomer generation is they had only seen positive and not really the negative side of the economy collapsing until the mid 2000’s. And it’s changed things for them.

    As for the article and professional tenants, they are not the same as people like yourself. Professional tenants never have intent to pay. They are here to take advantage of people and usually it ends up being the naive ill informed landlords who are struggling to get by.

    I help many tenants in similar situations to yours or in situations where they simply have bad landlords. And I’ve seen horrible behaviors by tenants who’ve destroyed the lives of landlords with no regard for anyone else. I often feel I’ve seen it all, but then someone else comes along and surprises me with new tales of woe.

    So my suggestion to you is to call the landlord and explain your situation, hopefully they’ve been good to deal with and can work with you.

    Thank you and have a great day.


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