Dave Ramsey says ...
Aug 03, 2012 | 2180 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear Dave,

I’m a landlord in New York, and I’ve always felt it’s not a good idea to rely entirely on previous landlords for referrals on prospective tenants. Do you have any tips for selecting good renters?

Jean

Dear Jean,

I think you’re on the right track. Most landlords aren’t thorough enough with the screening process. You can’t get to know someone without spending some time with them and digging into their personalities and backgrounds a little.

I have several rental properties, and here are a few tricks that work well for me. I always pull a credit bureau report on prospective renters. I also get a big deposit up front. I spend quite a bit of time talking to them one on one, as well, so with all this they’d have to be a pretty good con artist to get past me.

Another thing I do is to drive by the place they’re currently living. I like to see what condition the house is in, and if they keep the yard maintained. To me, this is a great indication of how responsible they are and how they would treat my property. It’s not a bad idea to get some proof of them having made previous rental payments on time, either.

In some ways it’s a leap of faith any time you sign an agreement with a new tenant. But there are things you can do in order to make a more informed decision as to whom you’re doing business with. And who knows? Lots of renters appreciate knowing they have a landlord who handles things in a professional manner. Maybe these suggestions will help you both feel a little more at ease.

Good luck, Jean!

—Dave

Dear Dave,

A debt collector has been calling members of my family to get information on me. She has identified herself as collector, and I want to pay what I owe, but is it legal for them to do this? If not, what can I do to make them stop?

Katherine

Dear Katherine,

No, it isn’t legal. If she identified herself in any way as a debt collector, and spoke with anyone but you about your debt, she has broken federal law. This is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You need to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against this collector and her company.

I would also advise recording the conversation the next time they call. Just tell them at the beginning that you’ll be taping any interaction you have with them from that point forward, and tell your relatives to do the same thing. That way, you’ll have proof of their misbehavior to hand over to the FTC or the attorney general. You might even be able to get this crooked collector shut down.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly okay to collect a debt. If you’re a creditor or collector, it’s simply money that’s owed to you, and you deserve it. But you must do it within the confines of the law, and you should do it within the confines of good taste. If you owe money, you should be honorable enough to pay what you owe. But this kind of behavior is just harassment and intimidation. Don’t let them get away with it, Katherine!

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.