Prospective Tenant Red Flags

As a landlord, you should have a screening process prepared when viewing prospective tenants; the point of this screening process is to know how to identify red flags, so that you can weed out any bad candidates.

When the prospective tenant calls you for information, ask them questions to find out if they are wasting your time or not. You should be concerned with how firm they are in their answers. For example, if you ask, “when are you looking to move?” and they respond with, “I’m not in a hurry, my lease doesn’t end for another month,” then you know that they are probably looking at many other places, and are just shopping around. Instead, look for someone with a firm answer, such as “My lease ends on the 1st, and I am very interested in your apartment. Could I come tomorrow?”

Look Out for These Red Flags When You Show the Apartment to Your Prospective Tenant:

. Did other people show up to the apartment than what had been said or indicated during the first phone call or email? Make sure you understand who you are renting to. Each person should submit an application and authorize a background check. You don’t want to allow people living in the apartment that are not on the lease agreement.

. Did they talk badly about their current or previous landlords? What kinds of complaints were you hearing? Validate these problems with the landlords, and make sure they were issues over reasonable matters, not unpaid rent.

. Is the new tenant in a big hurry to find an apartment/house? Unless there’s a good reason for the rush, this can be a warning sign. Be sure to follow up on this by speaking with their current landlord.

. Were they on time for the apartment showing? If they’re late to a showing, will they be late on other things, such as rent for example.

. Are they criticizing the property? If they’re not even renting yet and complaining, just imagine what it will be like when they are moved in.

. Listen to the questions that your prospective new tenants ask. These questions indicate whats important to them and how they prioritize things. Are they asking if the neighbors are complainers? Find out why this is the first question they chose to ask.

For one method of screening tenants, check out this website Tenant Screening Report that does it for you; also read this article by NOLO answering the question What’s the Best Way for Landlords to Screen Tenants?

One thought on “Prospective Tenant Red Flags

  1. The two biggest red flags I’ve seen are:

    1. When they tell you “I have a dog, but don’t worry, he’s really good! He barely even barks,” when, you didn’t even bring up barking. Rest assured, the dog barks like crazy, and if its an apartment complex you’re renting in…he/she will be a problem
    2. Criticism before you’ve signed a lease is usually indicative of a nagger. That doesn’t mean they won’t be a great tenant in terms of paying and maintaining everything. It just means you might get an influx of texts or phone calls if they notice theres an area that needs caulking on the bathtub.

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