What are the Warning Signs of a Bad Tenant?

You should ask yourself the following questions when showing a unit to a prospective tenant.

Snap341. Is the applicant in a hurry?

Apartment hoppers are likely to behave in this manner.  Also, applicants that are rushing the process are very likely to be hiding something in their past and don’t want you to look at them in closer detail.  A good candidate will be at ease when they contact you.  They’re not in a hurry because they want to find the best possible property for them.  This also indicates that they have the resources and time to wait and find the best one.

2. Is the applicant inconsistent in their information?

Closely watch for change in a tenant’s info at the beginning and end of the application process.  Often there can be subtle changes so as to hide important credit or criminal information during the screening process.  This can be missed without closer scrutiny.

3. Does the applicant scrutinize the process/asks too many questions?

If an applicant is asking too many questions about the screening process, this can be a clear indicator of the person wanting to hide important info about him/her.  They’re asking you questions so that they can think fast on their feet and alter how they provide you their info.

4. Is the applicant unable to complete their application on the spot?

Most tenants will have all of their information together on-site because they have a strong intention to rent soon.  Asking to finish the application at a later date may be an evasion tactic to provide misleading information in the application.  This also might just be an indicator of irresponsibility or lack of motivation.  The question you have to ask yourself though is, will the prospective tenant also be forgetful of thing like rent?

5. Does the applicant question having to fill out an application?

This often can happen with friends and relatives.  This individual will probably be under the impression that since you know them so well they should receive special considerations while living on your premises.  Firstly, you actually don’t necessarily know them that well.  You probably don’t spend that much time with your cousin.  Secondly, they should appreciate that you’re running a business.  Everyone legally must receive fair and equal treatment when applying for rent.  Finally, no matter who they are, if the prospective tenant is expecting special considerations when making the application to rent, they’re probably going to expect leniency when they’re late on their rent or damage the property, or get into some kind of trouble.

6. Are there bad references?

If an applicant’s references are all their best palls, its cause for some concern.  It would be nice to have some previous property owners/managers as references as this is the most directly relevant

7. Is there indirect answering of questions?

A common tactic in providing dishonest or sugar coating information is by “telling a story.”  This is an answer that is longer than 4 sentences.  Explanations sometimes are important considerations, but if you’re asking a yes/no question you should be able to get a yes/no answer and then the applicant can explain.  If after pushing for a more direct answer you’re not able to get it, something’s up.

8. Is the applicant currently under the influence?

Plenty of people drink, but they shouldn’t be doing it when making a rental application.  If other substances are involved, you should give this person a little bit more scrutiny before deciding to sign the lease with them.  Responsible people will work hard to make a good first impression.  Being sober during the application process should simply be an expectation.  Seeing the applicant in an otherwise state of mind might indicate that they are unable to remain sober during important events.

** Always be sure to follow all proper procedures when handling a tenant.  Please be sure that any metric you use in review of an application must be applied to all applications to rent.  A comprehensive view of F.C.R.A. law and procedures can be found here.  Also be sure to follow all fair housing laws and not to discriminate based on race, gender, minority group, etc.  Please also observe local ordinances, which may supersede some federal laws. **