8 Prospective Tenant Red Flags

tenant red flags

There were an average of 3.8 million eviction cases filed each year in the USA in the 21st century.

Such cases are a big hassle, and it is preferable to find out if you have potential problem tenants long before they even sign a contract. But are there any tenant red flags that you should look out for, and how would you know if they are a cause for concern?

Below we have listed eleven examples of how a tenant might flag that they are not a good fit for a tenancy. By checking through each of these with your potential renters, you will be able to work out if they are a poor fit for your property. At the very least, you might be able to find a question or two to ask them to determine if there is something you need to know.

1. Low Income

Property managers should be aware of potential tenants who might not be able to pay for their rent regularly. By asking a tenant about their income, you can ensure that they will have enough to be able to cover both their non-rent needs as well as pay you.

Someone with a low enough income might struggle to choose between necessities and rent. You can assume that the rent will be late if this is the case.

2. Lack of Employment

Part of tenant screening involves checking to see if someone will have a regular income that can pay the rent. If they are without employment, unless they have something lined up, that is one of the biggest prospective tenant red flags.

If they have no employment, they are unlikely to be able to pay rent unless they have a large nest egg. If they continue to pay despite this, you might want to start questioning where they get their money from. The money might end up not coming from above-board sources.

3. Poor Credit

While someone might have enough money right now, there is always the chance that they might end up down on their luck later on. For this reason, you should make sure that the tenant has the credit necessary to keep up their rent later on.

This also helps them cover rent in the case of accidents, emergency repairs, or medical issues.

4. Eviction on Their Record

If someone has already faced eviction in the past, there are likely to go through the same process in the future. It is an example of when you might want more details of the tenant’s history, as it might no longer be relevant.

5. Criminal Record

Finding out about a tenant’s criminal history is not illegal, but asking about it could put you in serious trouble.

The Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016 means it is illegal to even ask about arrests, let alone convictions. As such, while this may be a red flag it is also not information that you can get without difficulty.

You might want to run a background check instead.

6. Only Good References

If someone only has good references for jobs or previous homes, with large gaps between the engagements, you might want to ask about those gaps. It might turn out that the good references only refer to times when they had a good relationship. As such, other landlords or employers might have had a much poorer engagement with the individual.

After learning about what the person did to warrant such a reaction, you will need to learn how to say no to a prospective tenant.

7. Falsehoods in the Application

Purposely lying on the application suggests that the person has something to hide. You can either ask them about what it is they are trying to hide, or you can refuse them the application.

There is a very low probability that they are lying on the application for any good reason. Also, someone who starts any sort of professional relationship with a lie is unlikely to be a good tenant.

8. Demanding Personality

One of the more subtle red flags when finding a tenant is that someone is very demanding. It is hard to see the difference between someone who has high expectations, someone who is detail-oriented, and someone who will be a problem. This might take some experience to learn.

A good benchmark is if their demands will take more of your time. Then, if you refuse anything, how they react could tell you everything that you need to know.

How to Say No to a Prospective Tenant

We get that it can sometimes be hard to say no to a potential tenant. Here are some tips to avoid it all being an issue:

Be firm but brief. Do not go into too much detail, or any at all if you do not feel comfortable. If there is something you can point to that proves your reasoning, such as a credit report, use this.

Send the denial by email. This creates separation between yourself and the tenant. It gives them a chance to deal with the disappointment in their own time and not burden you with it.

Do not be manipulated. If they start giving you reasons why you should accept, do not be drawn in. If they push, they are being manipulative and would not make good tenants anyway.

Have someone with you. If you have to be there in person, have someone with you in the room or nearby. You can use them as support if things start getting awkward, or if you need to speak to someone after.

Avoid These Tenant Red Flags

Now that you understand these tenant red flags, you should be adept at noticing them. RentSafe has proved time and time again that these are real issues that come up that renters miss. What you want is something to alert you to them early on.

Our easy-to-use software allows you to engage in tenant screening for red flags before they set foot in your door. If you want to know more about what we can provide, please get in touch. Give us a call and find out how we can improve your tenant selection process.

Devin Henry
Devin Henry
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