Lease and Rentals: How to Protect yourself from going into Litigation with Bad Tenants

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Entering into any kind of agreement is usually voluntary as all parties must willingly accept the terms for it to the valid, lease or tenancy agreement are not excluded. Before creating a landlord-tenant relationship by a lease agreement, a thorough background check can save landlords from lease, rentals, tenants that can lead to litigation.

Litigation usually consumes time, energy, money and other forms of unquantifiable resources. It is therefore advisable for landlords to take precautions before letting out apartments to prospective tenants in other to mitigate the risks of leasing the property to tenants who will likely turn bad in the future.

There is no hard or fast rule on the perfect steps to take that can guarantee that you won’t have to go through the stress of evicting a tenant; however, there are some qualities found in a prospective tenant that will indicate a red flag.


On the other hand, there are also legal steps a landlord can take, prior to creating a landlord-tenant relationship that can help prevent bad future tenants. A landlord must endeavor to screen his tenants.

Mischievous tenants will always try to hind behind the provisions of the law to overreach unsuspecting landlords. There are states considered as tenant-friendly and other states consider as landlord-friendly. You may read our article on 5 Simple Legal Steps to Evict a Tenant.

For instance, in Chicago, it is impracticable to evict a tenant in during winter months; therefore, if you initiate the eviction process of a tenant in the month of August and obtain a judgment by the month of October. The tenant will not really have to vacate the apartment until April.

This implies that the eviction process can at times take up to nine months. The owner is prohibited from collecting rent from the tenant during the said winter months but is still liable for paying their mortgage timeously.

This and many other circumstances are the reasons why landlords should avoid problem tenants as much as they can by painstakingly screening all prospective prior to renting an apartment to them.

How to protect yourself from potential bad tenants:

  • Conduct a background check each tenant
  • Request for references from the prospective tenant
  • Verify the references supplied by tenant
  • Confirm from tenant’s place of work to verify their employment still subsist
  • Credit check
  • Check eviction and landlord history
  • Verify crime history or record
  • Verify the authenticity of all the relevant facts and details provided by the tenant
  • Refuse to lease your apartment to the tenant in case you find a red flag.

Cash for Keys alternative to Eviction Process

Cash for keys is an alternative to traditional eviction whereby a landlord offers the tenant cash payment instead of going through the process of eviction in exchange of vacating your unit or rental.

This alternative can be very frustrating and humiliating because landlords will have to forgo all their rights provided in law and created by agreement by offering cash to the tenant to accept delivering vacant possession of the unit to the landlord. The alternative of cash payment in exchange for the keys to the property is a swift and easy way of amicable resolution.

Landlords will need to give an explanation to the tenant that the eviction process can be costly for both parties, and may leave them with stains or discoloration on their credit if the lawsuit is initiated in small claims court for past rent or even wage garnishment after attempting to recoup the lost rent in housing court.

If parties agree with the option of cash for keys, a document terminating the lease must be drawn, signed and dated.

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