Most landlords wish they had a crystal ball, which would tell them whether a prospective tenant was the right choice, or whether they were going to turn into tenantzilla. While we can’t give you that, we can give you some tips about what might indicate that your tenant is a bad apple. Here are some big red flags you should be on the lookout for, in addition to a comprehensive tenant record check.
- They aren’t earning enough. Even if they are absolute saints who work hard and go to sleep when the sun sets, if your tenants can’t really afford the property, at some point, they’re going to be late on a payment, or skip one altogether.
- They smell like smoke or have stained fingers or teeth, but they claim to be non-smokers. It’s better to rent to an admitted smoker than one who is lying about their habit. At least you can increase the damage deposit or amend the lease when you know up front!
- Their employment history or rental reference list is as long as your arm, and has huge gaps in it.
- They attempt to negotiate the damage deposit down, or ask to pay it off. If they can’t afford the damage deposit upfront, they probably can’t afford it, period.
- They list themselves as self-employed, but can’t or won’t answer questions about what they actually do.
- They hate kids or pets. Let’s face it. If they’re renting an apartment, there will be families or people with pets in the building. Avoid the endless complaints, and direct them to the nearest adult only, pet free property.
- Your tenant record check shows they are related to all their employment and or rental references.
- When a van arrives for the walk through, and ten adults pile out to take a look at your three-bedroom house. Chances are, they’re starting a commune, and you don’t need that headache!
- They’re rude or obnoxious to you or their prospective neighbors. Most people are on their best behavior during the first meeting. If they can’t bother this time, they will be worse next time you deal with them.
- They want to pay the rent in cash. Chances are, they’re evading tax, or the authorities, or something else. Walk away.
- If they bring a parent along to look at the property… and co-sign the lease.
- They request complicated lease agreements that leave them liable for a portion of the rent, and their roommates for the other portions. One lease with many signatories is acceptable. Many different leases are not.
- They have no references. At all. No-one has no history at all, so if they claim they do, chances are they’re hiding something.
There probably isn’t a perfect tenant out there anywhere, and every time you rent your property, you will be weighing many different questions and issues, before making your decision. However, if you notice any of these during a tenant record check, or anything else that immediately makes you nervous, walk away, and wait for someone else to come along.
It’s better to have a property vacant for an extra month and rent it to the right person than it is to spend months trying to get rid of a nightmare tenant.