Your job as a landlord is much easier when you manage cooperative and responsible tenants. That means one of your first responsibilities as a landlord -- finding tenants for your rental unit -- is one of your most important. Evaluating prospective tenants is essential to ensure that you find renters you can trust. During the tenant-screening process, look for these five warnings signs, which should serve as red flags that may make you reconsider your prospective tenant.
1. Bad Credit
Checking a prospective tenant's credit rating can give you important insight into the individual's financial history. While a variety of factors can lower an individual's credit score, several can be particularly concerning to landlords. For example, your prospective tenant's credit report may reveal past evictions from rental units. It might indicate any default rent payments -- if those payments were sent to a collection agency. Finally, a credit report also might list any delinquent bill payments, which might not bode well for your prospective tenant paying rent promptly.
2. Unstable Employment
You want to know that your new tenant will be able to make the rent payment every month. Unstable -- or lack of -- employment might lead to delinquent rent payments down the road. After all, if your tenant doesn't have any income, he or she might not have the resources to cover rent. By asking for a prospective tenant's employment history and verifying employment with your tenant's current employer, you can increase the odds of choosing a tenant who can afford your rental. If you can't get a hold of an employer to verify employment, you're justified in being skeptical of a tenant.
3. Questionable Rental History
A prospective tenant that lacks a clean rental history could be a problem tenant in the future. If an individual applying to your unit has been evicted from a previous rental, continue your search elsewhere. While avoiding individuals with evictions might seem obvious, a less clear-cut rental history is also a concern. For example, you might encounter a prospective tenant that moved four times in one year. You might see another that cannot provide you with any landlord contact information so that you can check references. While these questionable rental histories alone might not be problematic, they are worth keeping in mind as you assess the tenant's complete application.
4. Incomplete Application
A prospective tenant who is unwilling to provide you with a complete application should raise an eyebrow. Basic information, including a Social Security number so that you can check credit, employment and rental histories, and wage/salary information are vital so that you can properly evaluate the tenant. By withholding this information, the tenant looks as though he or she is hiding information from you -- regardless of whether or not that's the case.
5. Special Favors
If your prospective tenant is already asking for favors or negotiating before the lease is signed -- or even offered, continue looking for renters. Perhaps your would-be tenant wants you to push back the move-in date to accommodate his or her expiring lease. Maybe the tenant asks for you to lift the pet deposit fee because his or her dog is fully trained. If the tenant starts negotiating long before the keys are turned over, chances are you're in for more hassles down the road.?
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