Why can't I find tenants for my RV park?

I have ads on Craigslist saying that you must pass a background check and provide proof of income. These are new rules just adopted as opposed to my earlier buffoonery at this park.

I am getting far fewer calls and all the ones I get, I have to decline because they have a record.

Should I relax the rules? Is this too much to ask for a trailer park?


As a landlord I am mostly looking for people who have not had a foreclosure or eviction in the last period of years! 

I don’t care whether someone has a police record provided they do not have a violent or sex offender crime record and there has been a period of rehabilitation between there charges and probationary period and time of application.

I also do not want drug users or those who do not have some rehabilitation period between that time and time of application!


This is Marketing 101: Highlight the benefits, not the detriments.

This is not directed at you specifically Redstar, and I’m not trying to insult you, but simply to make a point…

Amateurs, ‘cute’ wannabies, and some professionals notify prospects that they do “credit checks, background checks, and criminal background checks.”

Those aren’t ‘benefits’ to renting from a certain landlord. Those are unnecessary warning shots over the bow of a prospect’s boat. Why?

How’s that different than a car dealer advertising, “We only sell to qualified, white people with money and credit.”

Of course, notifying prospects that you do background checks isn’t racist, but it certainly IS discriminatory. I’m not saying credit and background checks are necessarily ‘bad.’ It’s just not something you advertise up front. You ease into that, once you’ve reeled in the fish.

Otherwise, those kinds of notices just scare pretty much the good, bad, and ugly prospects all the same. Anyone whose had a blemish on their credit, or something else that’s explainable, but embarrassing gets nervous. Never mind the prospect doesn’t know what level of checking you’re planning to do.

Otherwise, why not just explain exactly what you’re looking for; late pays; unpaid parking tickets; evictions; using a four letter word once; a default; a BK; auto theft; and/or a prison stint? You know. Or what?

Meantime, we’ve successfully focused the prospect on a negative thing involved in renting our hell hole, instead of focusing them on the hell hole’s green, half-empty, leaf-infested pool. BTW, which we affectionately call “The Frog Swamp.”

Instead, we highlight all the benefits of the unit/property, and maybe even quote the rent (that’s debatable), and call it a day.

Then after we get all sorts of calls, and weigh our options, we ease into the credit qualifying portion of the interview. At that point, we know what’s likely gonna happen, and can maneuver to accept, or deny, a given prospect without making him feel like a criminal under investigation, or worse, waiting to be sentenced.

Again, we never advertise that we do any kind of credit checks, or background checks on prospects as a condition of taking their applications. We interview anyone, without qualification, whose interested in renting from us.

We fill out the application for them as they give us the information we need. The answers, or lack of them, always provide a natural way to dig in deeper without coming across like a prosecuting investigator.

We have yet to have a ‘bad’ prospect’ fail to tell us what we’ll find on their credit report (if we do one at all). We ask, “If we were to do a credit and background check on you, what would we find?” We get all sorts of answers including “I don’t know what you’ll find, but you’ll probably see an eviction from ten years ago, when my boyfriend left me, and I couldn’t afford the rent.” Or, “I don’t know, you tell me.”

Of course, the first admission is irrelevant, because anything could have happened ten years ago, and we wouldn’t care. The second one is a red flag. Everybody “knows” what’s gonna be on their credit, except crooks and the stupid, and we don’t normally rent to either of those.

Of course, too, to be fair, we don’t rent to people with good credit. The ones with good credit and clear backgrounds won’t pay our asking rents. They just won’t. That’s another reason we don’t advertise that we do credit checks. We don’t need to. Prospects give us huge deposits, pre-paid rent, and co-signers on occasion, so a credit check just might keep them from giving us what we want.

I realize this approach isn’t for everybody, but still the idea of mentioning negative, discriminatory things regarding how you screen tenants, just reflects an unsophisticated and ignorant marketing approach.


Gold River,

So drug charges and thefts are okay as long as the crime was 7 years old or older?


I will take that marketing strategy into account.

I would never say it’s “ok,” of course, but it’s irrelevant, if we’re getting the rent, the deposit, and the terms we want. The people we rent to always (as in metaphysical certitude) have something to lose when they agree to rent from us. As a result, they behave. That doesn’t mean there’s not a learning curve to overcome, for some.

For example, paying late is expensive. We are adamant about getting the rent on time. On time for us means paying any day before the first. That constitutes our ‘grace period.’ After the first, the rent is late.

Of course, this requires a different mindset for our new tenants, regarding budgeting, planning ahead, getting the paycheck lined up, deposited, and monies reserved, and/or transferred, so that the rent can be paid within that 30 days prior to the due date.

Our late fees are huge for a reason, and it’s not because we want the money. It’s a nuisance to have to camp on late payers, and/or debate whether we accept rents without the late fees, or not. Not.

We operate this way, because we are dealing with higher risk customers. And because our own bills and payments are time-sensitive, and dependent on receiving the tenant’s payments. We’re not late with our payments, and so we don’t want the client to be either.

Once that detail is settled in the tenant’s mind, everything else mostly just rolls down hill from there.

I’m not mentioning the fact that rents, terms, deposits, and co-signers are all negotiable items, based on what we find, and what the prospect tells us about himself. And it’s too complicated to explain here, suffice to say if someone comes through the door with a string of felonies, violent offenses, and a sexual predator conviction from 10 years ago, but has a clean record since 2006 …well, this has never happened, but theoretically speaking, we might ask him if he’s interested in accepting a position as our ‘assistant manager’ (enforcer) at our apartments in east Los Angeles. I’m only half kidding. Otherwise, we never turn anyone down. Ever. We just make them jump higher hoops based on what they say and what we find.

BTW, a credit and background check is never meant for discovery. It’s meant to confirm what we already know. Any surprises only justify a renegotiation of the rents, deposits, and/or whether we want a co-signer, or not. Even then, we leave the qualifying to the tenant himself. If he agrees to the higher rents, deposits, and/or the co-signer, than we have a deal.

Oh, and we tell prospects that we don’t allow drug use, dealing, or public intoxication, or disturbing the peace. And we work with the police to curb these problems when necessary. And we make all of our tenant’s personal information, histories, suspicions, and what not available to any authorities that bother to ask. There is no such thing as personal privacy if you’re breaking our rules, or the law, or both.


What is your late fee? And you don’t give a 5 day grace period like I’ve heard some places do?

And how old can prior evictions be before you ignore them?

3rd party real estate managers will fart bricks before they rent to someone with an eviction history.

They also won’t rent to high-credit-risk tenants, nor do they get the highest possible rents, and extended rental agreements. Why?

Because the tenants with great credit, residence histories, and incomes can afford to bargain shop, and will continue to move up to better bargains as they come along. People with iffy credit don’t have that luxury, or those options.

Those are the ones I like dealing with. They do have evictions, late pays, defaults, and judgments on their credit. And they know it. And they know that they’re gonna pay out the nose for a decent place to live, and jump higher hoops to qualify for all of it. And that’s why I exist. To help them rent something nice, in return for a huge profit.

I can do this, because I’m a seasoned landlord with good negotiating skills. This isn’t for newbies. And the commercial operators are loathe to offer what I do.

Speaking of loathing, we don’t loan tenants free rent money for the first few days of their rental period, only because they haven’t gotten around to paying, and call that a ‘grace period.’ That’s stupid.

Not to mention, time is of the essence, as far as we’re concerned in receiving rents. We want to know as early as possible, if we’re going to have a problem getting the rents late, or ‘at all.’

Notwithstanding, why we do what we do, other landlords are sloppy by comparison. They often don’t consider rent late until the 10th of the month. The 10th! So, by the time they follow up on late payments, the rental period is half over. Well, the question would be, “Are they going to get the rent, or not?”

At this point, it’s becoming a gamble. Never mind the time it takes to get into court to execute an unlawful detainer action and subsequent eviction once it’s discovered that the tenant has no ability or intention to pay. Even then, a judgment doesn’t mean the landlord’s getting anything out of the deadbeat, despite getting possession within 30 days.

Meantime at best, they’re now 45 days into this deal, with no rental income, plus legal, clean-up, repair, and re-marketing costs. In other words they’re down $3,000, partly because they offer to loan their tenants rent, at no cost, for up to ten days every month. Really?

Of course, that describes the ‘amateur with no leverage’ approach to unlawful detainers, and such.

We have leverage on our tenant’s. Otherwise, we don’t rent to them. Or rather, they won’t rent from us.

We want to know on the 2nd, whether we have a problem, or not. And by the 3rd, the tenant has either brought the rent current, paid the late fees, and/or has received a notice to pay or quit. Our rights to repossess can’t be exercised until we give the tenant legal notice. So, that happens immediately; not five or ten days into a rental period.

Leverage is the key to success. Without it, and we’re sweating like pigs, and nervously scratching our balls, hoping the renters won’t screw us over. Sure. Forget that.

BTW, you know what happens when you offer a 7-day grace period? You get the rent on the seventh day, if you get it at all. It’s just magical that way.

Our late fees go up to $150, plus $15 per day.

$150 on what monthly rent? Wouldn’t that automatically kick someone out if they are one day late just because the late fee is so high?

$150 would be 10% of a $1500/mo rent. However, on a $3000/mo rent it’s not enough pain. That would just be a nuisance fee, but hardly painful.

Meantime, many mortgages have a 10% late fees embedded in their notes. We want more than what the bank charges. And that’s important to know, if you’re gonna take over a loan, and rent the house out. Just saying.

The point is to make the fee painful enough to avoid, but not so much as to create a financial catastrophe.

I’m not recommending this to newbies, or amateurs. It depends on the rent being charged, the price point, the potential risk of loss posed by the tenant, on a case-by-base basis.

For example, if you’re renting hell holes for $350/mo and your late fee is $150, that fee represents a financial catastrophe, especially for someone whom can only afford $350/mo in the first place.

So, perhaps a ‘painful’ late fee starts at $35 and goes up, depending? I wouldn’t know without having a more global view of the situation.

Meantime a 10% late fee seems like an appropriate starting place to discourage lateness. It’s painful, but unlikely to put the resident into a financial tailspin.

Again, it’s not about creating a profit center, as such. It’s about getting the rent paid on time. Whatever will accomplish that, without upending the tenant’s finances is what you want.

The daily rate can be more, too, but that really is just a nuisance fee to add incentive to pay. Otherwise, if the late fee was $150 no matter how late the rent was, there’s zero incentive to pay the late rent once the late fee kicks in. Is there? No. So, the daily late fee motivates the tenant to get us paid even after the late fee has been assessed.

For example, if the tenant waited ten days to pay us, that’s $150 in late fees, plus $15 per day, or another $150. So, he now owes us $300, not $150. Nobody wants to pay ‘that.’ So, he gets the money in faster, even though it’s now late.


  1. What kind of apartments are you renting for $3,000/month? That’s more expensive than the most expensive places down town.

  2. Do you overlook any crime other than sex offenses and violent charges if it’s over 7 years old?

  3. How do you handle security deposits? I currently charge $400 flat rate.

We’re not limiting the discussion only to apartments. We’re talking houses, too.

Meantime, we don’t have an expiration date on predator offenses. Predators rarely, as in never, ‘apply’ up front anyway. They would come in the back door on a clean lessee. That’s why we don’t allow sub-lessees.

Still, if a sex offender came clean with us, we would have to consider several factors including the clientele, we are already renting to.

For example, we don’t want to rent to a family of five in a building full of seniors. That is not a good mix.

By the same token we don’t want to rent to a senior, in a building full of kids. That doesn’t work either, and just creates a likely mess of unhappiness.

So, it doesn’t make economic sense, to rent to someone who represents a threat to our existing clients.

However, as an aside, google “sex offender maps” and plug in your home address, if you want to scare yourself to death.

Notwithstanding, theoretically, we don’t turn anyone down. We just make it worth our time and risk. Again, we haven’t come across this problem often enough to create a protocol, but if we did, we would weigh our options against the make up of the neighborhood, the potential risk to our business operation, and then exercise some wisdom and go from there.

I could say, we just get a gigantic deposit, ask for 10% rent premium, insist on a co-signer, and a three-year lease, and call it a day. Then we would cross our fingers and hope the renter gets arrested for masturbating on the fence at Our Lady of Younguns Catholic School, so we can forfeit his giant security deposit, evict him for lease violations, and then re-rent the units to yet another potential lease violator on sex charges, and turn this into a perpetual profit center. Yay for predators!

We’ve never been successful with this model, but hope springs eternal.

Since I only have 8 spots, I think I can be more selective.

Have y ou thought about buying a trailer and selling it to a potential buyer? It seems to me that that approach appeals to a lot of people.

Yes. This is a great plan. Rehab an existing trailer or bring one in. Then rent it “rent to own.” Tenants stay longer and take better care of property.

As a landlord I am mostly looking for people who have not had a foreclosure or eviction in the last period of years!
I don’t care whether someone has a police record provided they do not have a violent or sex offender crime record and there has been a period of rehabilitation between there charges and probationary period and time of application.

I would try showing your properties also on Facebook Marketplace. Craigslist is losing steam. I would also not show too much about possible issues like Background checks and income verification, leave that for when they are ready to apply. Additionally, there are several website’s on the internet where you can list properties (such as rental websites). You have to go where the people look.