How to Weed Out Bad Tenants: What You Need to Know About Screening Tenants
When screening a prospective tenant, the goal is to communicate with them on the phone and in person to watch for any red flags. It is easier than you think to determine whether or not a person is going to be a good tenant. While the person may have an excellent credit history and report, that does not necessarily that they will be a reliable, and/or easy to work with.
Keep in mind that it is rare to have a perfect tenant that always pays on time, never calls you for maintenance, never asks for repairs, or contacts you at all other than to say happy holidays. However, you can usually tell if a prospective tenant is going to be more difficult than the typical renter.
It is also very important that you research online mistakes that renters usually make. This is so that you can be prepared for the general issues that will likely come up, and be armed with how to handle the situations.
Red Flags to Watch Out for
. Did the tenant not tell you their three friends would be coming to view the property with them? They could be tagging along to see where they will be spending most of their time, rent-free.
. Any negative talk about a previous landlord. The key things to watch out for here are the specifics they give. For example, if the prospective tenant says that the landlord kept getting on them about complaints over their dog barking (and they swear he doesn’t even bark much), you can pretty much assume you will be getting the same complaints from the neighbors of your property, too. See: Top Ten Mistakes Landlords Make.
. If the new tenant is in a rush to find an apartment, it can be a sign of a big problem, such as eviction at his current apartment. While you should already be calling previous landlords anyway, this should be only further motivation.
. See if they are on time for the property showing. If they are unreliable the first time you meet them, don’t be so sure their rent won’t be late too. Of course, there are always exceptions and they could have been held up at work, or another obligation they couldn’t get out of. Use good judgment. Read: Ten Biggest Mistakes Renters Make.
. Was the prospective tenant easy to coordinate with? In a perfect world, your tenant would pay on-time every month and the apartment would never require any maintenance. However, that rarely happens and you’ll need to be able to coordinate with the tenant in the future. Make sure they can be reliable enough should you need to coordinate maintenance in the future. Be sure to read: 3 Mistakes Landlords Make During Lease Signing & Move-In.
. Look for any criticism regarding the property. If they haven’t moved in, and are already complaining or making demands about things that should be changed, ask yourself if its worth it to have them on your lease. There are times when a tenant will ask for reasonable things to be fixed or changed before they move in.
. Listen to any and all questions they may ask, as they will indicate their priorities. If they are young, and ask if the walls are thin, this may be a sign that they will be having company over a lot. If your tenants on the other side are older professionals, you may want to re-consider letting a recent college grad be their new neighbors.