When renting a property to someone, unfortunately, you have to be a little judgmental. As a part of your job, you have to be attentive to people’s characteristics and background/history in order to determine if they are the best candidate to rent your property to. Most of the time, a majority of the people you may come across to rent to are decent and good candidates that will end up not being of any trouble at all. While this may be the case, however, this doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter a prospective tenant that could be a problem at some point in your career.
Dealing with someone who shows interest in your property but also displays signs that they could prove to be problematic in the future is not easy by any means. Despite this, if you pay close enough attention, you’ll be able to spot the signs early enough which will ultimately make the process easier. If you are a landlord/property manager nervous about detecting the signs of potential problem tenant, check out my five warning signs below!
Before we delve into how to spot the signs, first, it’s important to recognize what the laws are regarding you, the tenant and your jobs. Lindsey Schober of Zillow makes an important note, stating, “Each state and municipality has unique laws and ordinances. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your landlord rights and responsibilities, tenant rights, and the basic workings of specific notices and eviction procedures. Work with an attorney to set up your policies and procedures.” Once you have a decent understanding of your rights as a landlord as well as the rights of any of your tenants, you will not only feel more confident about the selection process, but you will also feel better about handling a tenant in the case they pose a significant problem.
Now that you have an understanding of your rights and responsibilities, you can easily spot these five problem signs of a potential tenant:
1. Payment History/Credit: One of the determining factors when renting a property to someone is having a decent or good credit score. Though it may be unfair at times, many property managers and landlords use credit scores as a means of determining whether or not a tenant can be reliable in their payments and responsible while living in your property. A warning sign of a bad tenant can be a hesitancy to conduct a credit score or a credit score that shows a history of late payments. According to the staff at Upad, if you think you may have a problem, “Speak to the tenant and ask them if there’s a problem and remind them that the rent should always be paid by the due date. However, if you get a couple of late payments in a row, you should ask them directly if they’re having difficulty with the rent and discuss how you can sort this out.”
2. Friend/Family Member: You may be asking yourself, “what could be so wrong about having a friend or family member as a tenant?” Having a friend or family member as a tenant isn’t an instant horror, however, it can be dangerous. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “don’t mix family and business”? Well, there is a reason why that phrase exists. Unfortunately, in some cases when this happens, it becomes hard to uphold your status as the landlord and makes it harder for you to keep your relationship separate. In the long run, try to avoid this so you ultimately don’t ruin a relationship!
3. Criminal History: Background checks are wonderful things; they tell you anything you could want to know about a possible tenant to help narrow down your selection process. If a prospective tenant has a criminal history that makes you uncomfortable, in a majority of states, you can deny them based on their past criminal offenses. However, in states like California, you cannot discriminate against those who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes, according to Erin Eberlin of the Balance.
4. False Contacts: In almost all cases, most landlords/property managers ask for at least one or a few references to help in evaluating a tenant. Most people do not have a problem with this, however, those who can potentially be problem tenants may provide false contacts like friends or family members to pose as references to make themselves look better. To combat this, Chris of LandlordTalking notes, “One of the best ways to avoid this scam is to ask for multiple landlord references, including the current landlord. Come up with some preliminary questions to ask the contact during the interview. What will seem like small talk may actually tip you off to a fraudulent reference.”
While the process of evaluating a tenant may be difficult and exhausting, to notice the signs of a potentially bad tenant will only prove to help you in the long run. As always, good luck!