How to Spot Bad Tenants

by Chris on December 11, 2013

Tenant screening is all about habits. Applicants with good habits tend to follow the rules and pay rent on time. But those who have been problems in the past often will fall back into those same patterns.

When you are considering your next tenant, you may want to perform more due diligence before you rent to applicants with these bad habits:

1. A tenant who has rented in the past but can’t produce a landlord reference is probably hiding something — like a prior eviction. What the tenant won’t tell you is as important as what he or she does say.

tenant screening2. A landlord has the right to confirm that the applicant has sufficient income to cover the rent, regardless of the source of that income.

Those with criminal intentions often pay with cash. Those with inadequate income may exaggerate.

Applicants who wish to pay cash or are self-employed require more due diligence to confirm that their income is legitimate.

3. A tenant’s credit is a mess.  If  the credit check shows red flags, you are dealing with an individual who has had a tough time managing their money.  That increases the risk that this person will pay late, or overextend and run out of money to pay rent.  Running a credit report is the only way to get an honest picture of a rental applicant.

4. Professional tenants — those who have ripped off previous landlords — often ask to pay rent or deposit in installments. They say they will have the money by end of week, for instance. But these tenants know the game.

Once this tenant has a signed lease and the keys, he or she may delay over and over again, making up one excuse after another until you are  forced to file for an eviction. When all is said and done, the tenant may have remained in the property for months rent-free.

If someone can’t pay the rent and deposit up front, it’s likely you can’t afford having them in your rental.

When choosing a tenant, it is important not to allow emotion to interfere with sound business sense. Bad tenants are highly skilled when it comes to fast-talking. Perhaps their style is to be friendly, or maybe they have a hard-luck story and appeal to a landlord who is a good person and wants to help.

But these tenants will not hesitate to take advantage of the situation and create income loss for the landlord. Trouble is there is no way of knowing for sure which tenants are bad and which are good until you run a tenant background check.

Don’t be left in the dark. Make sure you verify all the information in the rental application, run a credit check, and speak with the references, including the previous landlords. This process can reveal that your ideal tenant is nothing more than a scammer trying to get a free ride.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom c January 24, 2017 at 5:11 pm

This email is just a polite and of an opinion of a person who was in a tough place before.

Judging a person based on a credit history should be against the law… and should be removed from the rights of landlords to be able to access. …. in my past I was a victim of fraud and couldn’t find anyone to rent me a nice living environment and it ended up getting my place broken into and losses my property. .. my credit was damaged because of a payday loan place that I never went to…. (just recently)
I own a legal business and pay my bills.. and I hesitate to provide my credit information based on what your telling landlords to watch out for…. it’s a form of slandering a person based on not knowing why or how their credit was damaged…..

mark le May 27, 2019 at 3:05 pm

Sorry Tom id rather slander you then lose money and have damage to my house.

Good luck.

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