Problem Tenant in Your Future? Four Warning Signs to Look Out For

Posted by Teresa on September 21, 2010 under Landlord Tips, Tenant Screening & Background Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenant screeningSizing up tenants is a tricky business. Legally, a landlord cannot discriminate against potential tenants based on gender, age, race, family status, religion, disability or country of origin. And experienced landlords know that you can never judge a book by its cover. That flashy car and expensive jewelry doesn’t guarantee a tenant that will pay the rent on time. Conversely, a beater car and sloppy appearance might not be ideal, but if they can pay the rent, should we care about a wrinkled shirt?

While keeping an open mind during the tenant application process is a good idea, you still want to start the screening process with your very first contact.

Here are 4 warning signs that a potential tenant could cause you problems:

  1. Your potential tenant cannot pay the security deposit. If they want to pay in installments, or as soon as they get paid next week, or when they get their security deposit back on their current place, you might need to get used to hearing such excuses.
  2. They are a little too “salesy.” Excitement over finding a great apartment or rental house is great—you want your tenants to like your rental property. But major flattery of you, your outfit, your hairdo or the property should be a red flag. So is selling him or herself too hard. You could have a con artist on your hands!
  3. A potential tenant starts asking about trading services for rent. There are plenty of landlords who allow tenants to repair and maintain their building or cut the grass in exchange for rent. But it can lead to problems. If you’re not yet at the lease stage and you’re hearing offers of bartering for rent, consider yourself lucky and move on.
  4. The lease application is not filled out completely. Conveniently forgetting the phone numbers of a current landlord, boss, or personal references is a bad sign. Leaving blanks indicates that your potential tenant might not want you to have that information.

Follow up your gut-check on every tenant with a thorough background and credit screening. If all comes back clean, check with references and employers to give yourself a complete picture of your tenant—before the lease is signed!