How to Spot a Potentially Difficult Tenant


When a rental unit becomes vacant, there can be intense pressure to fill the unit. Every month the rental unit is left vacant is a month of lost revenue that can impact a landlord’s already tight profit margin. When the pressure to fill a vacancy is high, often landlords or property managers may try to cut corners and not do their due diligence when screening a tenant. However, there are simple steps a landlord can take to spot a potentially difficult tenant that may have problems paying rent, more likely to damage property or will not maintain your rental property in the matter that is expected. Of course, it is important to check your local and state laws to ensure that what every method you use to screen tenants is legal in your jurisdiction.

Here are some relatively simple ways to screen out a tenant.


  • False References: Many landlords or property managers ask tenant applicants for references that may include previous landlords or current employers. Before calling these contacts conduct a simple google search to see if the numbers, individuals and their digital information (linkedin, facebook, etc) match what the prospective tenant wrote on the application. If it is apparent the individuals, they put down as references do not hold the positions the tenants claimed then you will know not to accept their application right away. Also, when you call these numbers, you can ask some simple questions and see if their answers match the information that the prospective tenant gave you.

  • Criminal History: Finding out a tenant has a criminal history, especially if they did not tell you about it on the application, can be an easy way to screen the tenant out. Conducting a simple google search can often reveal individuals criminal history. To be sure, however, paying for a background check will be the best way to go. However in some states, it is illegal to deny someone for a rental unit solely based on their criminal history.

  • Credit History: If the tenant has a poor credit history it may be an indication that they cannot afford to pay rent on time. If their credit report shows a history of late payments and maxed out credit cards it is a definite warning sign that without a cosigner with better credit, this person’s tenant application should be rejected

This post is provided by RISSOFT Residential and Commercial Property Management Software, specializing in innovative and cutting-edge property management software for all 50 states. Request a demo or contact us today to receive more information.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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