Quality is key when it comes to finding tenants — and that means learning how to spot red flags before you extend a lease offer. Review the warning signs for problem tenants so you don’t rent to someone who won’t pay the rent, doesn’t care about your property, or may cause damage.
Lack of Rental History
Problem tenants may be kicked out or vacate an apartment when they can’t make rent. This makes for a checkered rental history with frequent moves — a red flag. Other problem tenants simply cannot show you where they’ve lived. A lack of rental history dating back at least two years begs questions about this person’s history. Was he or she homeless? Incarcerated? You deserve to know before offering this person a lease.
The way potential tenants treat other people indicates how they will treat you. By checking their credit, you can understand much more than their credit score. You will see who they owe, how much they owe, and whether they pay debts on time. If tenants aren’t paying their credit card on time, why would they pay you the rent when it’s due?
The only time it’s advisable to rent to people with poor credit is if they have taken steps to address their credit and improve their financial literacy. For instance, those who are getting back on their feet after unemployment, who disclose their situation with you, and who pay their bills on time are taking steps to improve their credit. They represent less of a risk to you. Some landlords take pride in helping people get back on their feet and enjoy giving people a second chance. Weigh the credit score, then decide what feels right to you.
Noncompliance With the Application Process
As a landlord or property manager, you know it’s important to screen all applicants the same way to stay in compliance with the Fair Housing Act. If a renter doesn’t want to comply with your application process, there is no reason for you to accommodate him or her. When individuals push back if you ask for references, pay stubs or other documentation, it’s a sign they will push back throughout their tenancy — and they may be trying to hide something.
Something Doesn’t Add Up
Have you ever had a funny feeling in your gut about an applicant? If so, your intuition was probably trying to tell you that something about the applicant wasn’t right. When you screen renters for a living, you can often tell when someone is disreputable or trying to hide something. Listen to that inner voice when someone seems too pushy, too desperate or too good to be true. For instance, renters who offer you over market rate because they need a place ASAP are quite likely running from something.
Ideally, you will be able to spot problem tenants before offering them your open unit. In some cases, red flags only arise after the tenant is in the apartment. If you spot red flags after the lease signing, you can prepare for potential issues that may arise to mitigate the damage.