Rent it Right
You could, if you choose, sue for the return of the money that was supposed to be spent on credit reports and screening. Because the manager's acts were so clearly contrary to what he was paid for, you might have a sympathetic case.
But whether you could also recover for the costs of evicting the bad tenant, plus the cost of repairs, is debatable. These are consequential damages of the manager's actions. To recover these expenses, you'd need to show you would not have had to pay them if the manager had screened properly.
It would have to be absolutely clear that your manager, had he pulled and reviewed this tenant's credit report, would have excluded the tenant from consideration. You'd need to have good proof of your standards, such as written instructions to exclude anyone whose credit score falls below a certain cutoff.
Without a bright line test that could have been applied to the credit report, you may find it difficult to show that, but for the failure to screen, this tenant would not have gotten the nod.
From a practical standpoint, too, it probably makes little sense to go after your manager (hopefully your ex-manager by now). Instead, focus on the future and consider how you can assure yourself that your next manager is doing what you pay for.
It's not burdensome to ask for credit reports, and notes of conversations with employers and past and current landlords, for applicants whom your manager has supposedly screened.
Yes, reviewing those documents is precisely what you had hoped to avoid by off-loading this task to your manager. But like any employer, when you become complacent and fail to verify that your employees are working as expected, you risk being taken advantage of.
Janet Portman is an attorney and managing editor at Nolo. She specializes in landlord/tenant law and is co-author of "Every Landlord's Legal Guide" and "Every Tenant's Legal Guide." She can be reached at email@example.com.
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