Telltale Signs of a Bad Renter

Telltale Signs of a Bad Renter

We’ve previously shown you how you can find great tenants easily. But knowing who the bad seeds are can be just as important as identifying the good ones. Here’s how you can use a tenant verification system to find out more about your applicants’ rental history.

Tenant Verification

tenant verification

You don’t want to put your name behind a bad tenant. The best way in ensuring that doesn’t happen is using solid tenant verification to examine rental history. First, you want good screening reports.

This includes a credit, criminal background, and eviction history. Let all of your applicants know that you will be running these screens on them, and if they have any objections, you should take that as a red flag.

One common practice of applicants is running their own credit. While this may be convenient for you, the agent/landlord, you have to realize that a credit report from the hands of the renter can easily be tampered with.

rental history

Photo from Shaddwulf, used via CC license 3.0

Someone that is uncomfortable with their credit being run implies that they have something to hide. If they use the "I don’t want my credit score to be damaged" excuse, use a soft credit inquiry to prevent this.

In addition to a credit report, you should always check your applicants’ eviction history. Having a better idea of who your applicant is beyond their credit score is always a good idea.

You can be a good renter with a below average credit score, but it is hard to look past an eviction, especially if it is recent. You can find free services that offer you solid tenant verification reports that will make the tenant selection process much easier for you.


tenant verification

Photo by Kumar Appaiah, used via CC license 2.0

Although they can be very revealing, there is only so much your screening reports can tell you about rental history.

On most online rental applications, there is a field for references, whether it be current/former landlords, employers, or mentors. These are great ways to get a much more detailed idea of who your applicant is.

Rental History Questions to Ask References

In order to get to know your applicant to the fullest extent, you need to ask their references the right questions.

  • Landlords: Ask their current and past landlords rental history questions like what kind of tenant they were, did they ever have trouble paying rent on time, were there a lot of complaints from the neighbors, etc.

    In addition, you can ask less obvious questions like how courteous were they or if they were ever rude. While they might not be as important as paying rent, manners go a long way.

    Make sure that you reach out to current as well as past landlords. If they are truly bad tenants, a current landlord might say anything to get them off of their hands.

  • Professional References: Ask co-workers or supervisors about the applicant’s responsibility and reliability. Do they miss work a lot? Can they be trusted with important tasks? How would you rate them as an employee?

    Current supervisors are key here because if they aren’t too fond of the applicant, chances are their job security isn’t in the best position.

  • Personal References : While they may not be as reliable as the previously mentioned references, personal references can still be a good source of information.

    Ask personal references less opinion-based questions, as they may be biased because they are a friend or family member. Questions like how long have they been employed for, do you think they will be financially stable in the coming years, etc.

    It is important to read between the lines, as personal references will usually do their best to paint the applicant in their best light.

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