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Home · Property Management · Tenant Screening : 700+ Credit Score Tenants Not the Best Choice for Your Rental Home

by Brett Furniss

landlord helpI was talking to a prospective Charlotte property management client the other day and he had only one criteria he really cared about. After we run a credit report for landlords on a perspective tenant, he wanted to make sure that we placed a rental tenant into his home that had 700+ credit scores. That was it.

I told him I didn’t think that was a good idea; it would reject a lot of better suited applicants. He told me I was crazy (in so many words).

Well, let’s do the whole Benjamin Franklin pro’s and con’s thing. Then we can make an educated decision.

First, the overall goal must be established. As a Charlotte property manager, we want to make sure that we maximize our client’s investments. Generally speaking, we define this as providing the most net cash flow to our owner clients. Most clients agree that we should be measured by how much money we put into their pockets.

Now for the pros of a 700+ credit score client after running a credit report for landlords. They will almost always:

Pay their rent in full and on-time.

Leave the home in great shape when they move out.


These are the two biggest concerns of our clients, so these are very good attributes.

Let’s now look at the cons. I could nitpick, but tenants with 700+ credit scores are pretty good to have. So, I just want to focus on one con:

They typically vacate after their initial lease expires.


This one con crushes a client’s overall cash flow and ROI.

Most people who have 700+ credit scores buy homes immediately. The ones that don’t usually have a reason like they:

Are a mobile professional who will move with their company in 1-2 years.

Are waiting for the right deal on the house they want (Guess what? The deals are here now!)

Just moved to town and will buy once they get to know the area.


So a full year’s rent is secure, but then there will usually be a few months of vacancy and holding costs that have to be factored in after the 700+ tenant vacates.

The ROI might be better with a tenant with sub-620 scores (who can’t buy) and a solid landlord history? I’m thinking there is certainly a case to be made.

Tenants who stay for years are almost always a better investment than those that are one year and done.

In conclusion, it may be time to rethink the “700+ credit tenant or no deal” strategy when screening a tenant and using credit report services for landlords.

Brett Furniss is the President & Owner of BDF Realty (“Charlotte’s Most Innovative Property Management & Investment Company”), and Rent-To-Sell Realty (“When You Need a New Solution to Sell Your Home”) which specialize in rent-to-own (lease options) and rent-to-sell homes. You can contact him directly at [email protected].

See how to run a credit report on a tenant and more on Tenant Screening.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your commercial housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, a tenant background check and credit report services for landlords, insurance, and financing. Want to know how to run a credit report on a tenant? Find out more at

  • mb

    What can you say about those properties under rent control? Because the landlord will not be able to raise the rent beyond what is allowed, the tenant will remain in the unit for years while the cost of living continue to increase. Over time, the allowable rent increase will not be able to address the rising cost. Don’t you think that given this scenario, the property should be better given to tenants who plan to move out later?

  • I agree! I’ve been managing rentals for 16 years and my best tenants are those who have a good landlord reference and who have lived in their prior residence for at least two years. Typically, my tenants have credit scores in the 500s but I don’t care. My number one criteria for a tenant is the landlord reference; if they have that, they tend to be great tenants who pay on time and stay for years.

  • Gary Carlson

    Your reasons for not renting to high credit score people make sense. Indeed, they may have a tendency to move more often. However, many times with the low scorers, you may wish they WOULD leave. When they finally do, the repairs can often overshadow the “value” they have by being “longer term”.

  • For our area in Red Bank, TN, we have such a high turnover having above or below 700 would not make any difference. Another factor our complex is more for the average laborer. We keep improving the property and the 42 apts, but we are not your luxury apts. Thus we rarely even see an applicant with 700+. It sounds wonderful to have someone who stays the whole year and leave the apartment in good condition.

  • johnthelandlord

    I have been managing apt rentals for nearly 19 years. I have leased many many apartments over thta time. The one thing I can tell you is that people with very good credit (700+) almost ALWAYS pay on time. About 99% of the time. On the flip side, people with credit under 600 ALWAYS 99% of the time have at least some problem during the tenancy paying on time. As a matter of fact, I can only think of one time I rented to a low score tenant that paid perfectly every time.

    Over the past five years, I have changed my policy, if you dont have at least a 625 score your application is denied flat out. I dont care if your uncle, mother or your pet monkey “co-signs”..NO DEAL. Sure this has cost me a higher vacancy rate coupled with the bad rental market but I can sleep better and I am getting too old to chase people for their rents.

    To address the other issue of high scoring tenants moving out, I have not found this to be the case since the cost of SFR in Los Angeles is out of reach for 90% of my renters.

  • Deitra

    I used to feel the same way… late payers = more money… until I got one… who pays late ALL the time… it’s one thing if you know they essential pay on time but they think the 10th is on time..and they do it and pay the late fee without a hassle, but when you have one that wants a mile and always has a hard luck story to tell and we play the game of I send a 3-day notice, and they make a partial payment, I send another notice, another partial payment… then they want new carpet that they’ve already made smell like an ash tray… rent money is hard to come by supposedly but for cable, beer and cigarettes, it’s never a problem.

    Yep, she is tenacious and keeps paying, including all the late fees, as long as I stay fully on top of her and the situation, which amounts to more hours per WEEK on phone calls, texts and email letters, basically parenting a person struggling to get a grip on life.

    I am making sure to set up my opportunity to get her out so I can go back to a renter who pays on time and for whom a flat tire doesn’t take them out… and I am not up till 1am writing lengthy letters re-stating and pointing out the parts of the lease that explain whatever her current confusion is about.

    Less money = more sleep and MUCH less work. If you have a place in Clearwater, Florida that you would like to have this person and the extra money she’ll provide you, let me know and I would love to work out something with you for a smooth transition… I’ll happily exchange her for one of your on-time payers who I will never hear from and who will leave in a year, keeping the place nice.

  • ApartmentSage

    I really enjoyed the last post from Deitra, thanks for sharing that story. It’s funny that after 20 years in the biz I still get a sense of connection from others with similar experiences. That said, I think we’ve strayed from the point. It’s not that a late payer who never leaves is preferable to a high score tenant who stays only the initial term. The issue here is whether or not a less-than-stellar credit score translates into longer term residents who will pay on time and not trash the place. Without the stats to back it up, I believe this is true. You don’t have to have Mr. Perfect credit to get a timely rent payment so it stands to reason that if you can find those conscientious 575’S to 650’s you can cash in on longer stays with less hassle.

  • cobbgirl

    I go by the overall credit. How many accounts overdue or in collection. People who don’t pay credit card bills don’t pay rent either. People with bad credit are sometimes not so smart. They don’t report plumbing problems so a faucet leaks for months until you notice the high water bill. They try to make repairs themselves resulting in more expenses for damages they cause. I have a long term tenant she used to pay late but lately she has been paying on time. I know she will pay and she doesn’t break things or have loud parties. I think the fact that another tenant was evicted for non payment made her start paying on time. In 20 years in the business I have only had one landlord call me for a reference. So how they are screening their tenants I don’t know. All the tenants would have gotten good references if anyone had bothered to call about them.

  • alden okie


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