Five Best Ways to Flag Problematic Tenants

No matter whether you are new into rental business or an established landlord renting out properties for the past several years, you are likely to encounter a wide variety of tenants. Some of the tenants will be cooperative and honest while others will be difficult to deal with. Good tenants would be paying their rent on time, following the rules, and will cause no damages or any other issues. On the contrary, bad tenants are problematic and create nasty hassles landlords or homeowners during their stay in the property.

The tricky part is you can’t always identify whether the tenant is problematic or good. Experienced landlords experience that even tenants with good jobs, sparkling references, and commendable credit scores turns out to be duds. However, there are certain warning signs that can help a landlord to flag problematic tenants.

Here are some red flags that indicate the prospective tenant can become a problem later.

1. Tenants complaining about the application charges. Good tenants consider that running credit checks and background checks, processing paperwork, and calling references take time and money and is part and parcel of the tenant screening process. They won’t gripe about the tenant screening process and will usually pay the application charges without any complaint. A lease applicant who complains or makes excuses for paying the application charges may be a problematic tenant.

2. Tenants creating a delay by asking for more time to pay their security deposit and first month’s rent. An unscrupulous tenant will make excuses when asked to pay the security deposit and first month’s rent even when the tenant has good credit score and good job. It is better to pass on such a tenant and wait for a good tenant to rent out your property.

3. Tenants who are constantly getting new jobs. Getting a new job is not an issue since individuals switch jobs for promotions to better positions or for a pay increase which in turn helps them afford more rent. But if a prospective tenant has changed jobs numerous times in the past two or three years then it may be an indication they have difficulty holding down a job. If this is the case it will create excuses for not paying the rent on time.

4. Tenants with relationship issues. Even if a landlord cannot discriminate applicants based on their marital status, according to the Fair Housing Act, it is better not to give priority to the applicants who mention that they are in abusive relationships. If a prospective tenant mentions relationship issues where they are trying to get rid of someone consider this as a red flag. Trouble generally follows such tenants sooner or later and may create issues with respect to the property where these tenants reside.

5. Tenants asking too many questions. You need to identify whether the tenant is having a healthy interest in the rental property or having vested interest in residing in it. Be wary of the prospective tenant if he or she asks questions such as

  • The racial makeup of your neighborhood or the building.

  • Exact cost of electric, gas, or sewer bills in detail.

  • How to file complaints about repair.

  • Smoking zone whereabouts.

  • How often your property is inspected.

If these questions are asked by a potential tenant, it’s not wrong to assume that the tenant has vested interest in it.

Being the landlord it’s up to you to finalize with whom you should enter into a lease agreement. It’s better to keep your eyes and ears open, trust your instincts, and verify a prospective tenant using these tips before letting a tenant reside in your property.