Choosing the wrong tenant is the single worst mistake a landlord can make. A bad tenant can damage the property so badly it takes a lot of time and money to get it back in shape, and they can also drag landlords to court and through long and tortuous eviction processes. The good news is that knowing which bad signs to look for can save you a lot of trouble:
Red Flag #1: They Want to Skip the Process
Bad applicants depend on landlords skipping the vetting process. Usually, they have something to hide and have a very small timeframe to act before getting found out. One of their usual tricks is trying to throw money at you to speed things up. They can either promise to pay 6 months in advance. If this happens to you, ask yourself: Will they even be able to pay after the 6 months are over? Most people offering to pay so much up front do so because that’s all the money they have and they think it sounds trustworthy but don’t be impressed by the promise of fast money right now. You want someone that will actually be able to pay rent in the future.
Landlords need to remember that the vetting process is there to protect them as well as the property. Regardless of how fast they want to find a tenant or how busy they are, skipping the standard process is a really bad idea. Sometimes landlords, especially inexperienced ones, tend to become more relaxed and lenient when the applicant is a friend or recommended by a family member, and that’s exactly when things can get messy. Failing to do a background check, or overlooking red flags can cost you a lot in the long run.
Red Flag #2: They Have Some Weird Questions
Some people are not looking to rent your place to live in it. They want to sublet it. If you have no problem with that, fine. However, most landlords don’t want tenants renting out their properties to strangers. After all, subletters are often inhabiting the properties without a contract so if something happens the landlords have to work pretty hard to make a case that benefits them..
Applicants with this type of hidden intentions are really hard to spot. In general, ask more questions to those who are looking to rent at a place that’s nowhere near their jobs or schools even though they have the money to rent a property that’s closer. They also tend to say they want the property as a second home. Sure, these are not dead-giveaways, but they should give you pause.
Red Flag #3: They Have No References
A good way to weed out the bad guys is by talking to the old landlords of the possible tenants. But what happens when they don’t have any? Unless is their first-time renter, they should be able to provide references or at least a good explanation for why they don’t.
You should be hesitant about renting to applicants that don’t provide you with a way to contact their old landlord. They could be hiding a history of evictions, late rents, or unfulfilled contracts. Though someone’s past shouldn’t keep them from renting, it should alert you to have a tighter contract or take more precautions.