Warning Signs For Property Managers Screening New Tenants

You’ve got your few bad apples here and there in the landlord-tenant industry, so be sure to exercise precaution in weeding out the not-so-good ones. How can you spot them, though? It’s not like they’ll be soft to the touch or infested with worms, not to mention you really can’t look at them and know by the color of the apple skin that they’re simply awful. In the real estate industry, you have to look a lot deeper, do a little research and make all the necessary comprehensive steps to ensure you have the best of the bunch in your buildings.

All the basic information applies, too — name, social security number, driver’s license, employment, income and references. That all is referenced by a simple rental application. You can, however, go the extra mile, checking with previous landlords for any personal experiences, investigating with employment verification, credit report and background checks. They all, for sure, can help ensure that you don’t have a tenant making a living as a drug dealer or criminal, for sure. Without a doubt, though, there are specific questions you would need to ask aside from all the referenced information on a rental application.

What You Would Need to Ask Prospective Tenants Specifically

If you’re a property manager, and you’re an expert at asking the probing questions a CSI investigator would ask, then you’re on a roll. That’s what it takes in the real estate industry. These are some of the most recommended questions you must ask:

Warning Signs For Property Managers Screening New Tenants

  • Why are you moving?
  • When do you need to move in?
  • How long will you be in the space?
  • Who will be living with you? Anyone?
  • Where do you work? Do you work?
  • Do you have a cat? Dog? Fish? Tarantula?
  • Do you smoke cigarettes? Marijuana?

Obviously, the last question is a gimme for the latter half portion. If that’s a ‘yes,’ it’s an immediate ‘no’ on your end. Your first two questions, though, can lend you some clues as to the warning signs of a particularly bad tenant.

You might have a tenant with either shaky employment or no employment. Those are the sort of tenants you don’t want, because for sure they won’t ever make their payments, not to mention if they’ve had particular problems with the previous landlord, chances are they’ll have problems with you.

Additionally, keep a close eye on these particular warning signs as well:

The Evidence Is In

Just listen to how the prospective tenant answers your questions, plain and simple. You’ll become an expert investigator and interrogator, for sure. If you’ve got a tenant giving you an elaborately long backstory about the why and the how, run. That’s a bad tenant. Additionally, a tenant might avoid some questions, plus you might have some cases where the tenant seems desperate, showing signs of possible abuse. Regardless of how bad you might feel for that kind of tenant, you don’t want to invite any violence, criminal activity, or even legal issues resulting from such activity into your establishment.

Furthermore, watch closely as a particular tenant walks around the rental space with parents. Moreover, the parents are asking all the questions, so you might have a first-timer on your hands with no ‘responsibility,’ per se, in handling the utilities and bills. Keep a close eye on that one. Yes, you might even have a tenant with a history of constantly moving. What does that symbolize? Someone who’s unreliable and a waste of your time.

Do Your Homework

Keep in mind that these are more generalized warning signs of something that could be evidence of a bad tenant. There’s ultimately, however, no way to know for sure if a particular tenant has lied on an application; but you for sure, undoubtedly, have to treat every prospect the same. That’s the balance.

Of course, as always, consult with your qualified business lawyer for more of what you can do. Letting every tenant know, though, that you’re doing your “homework” (checking credit, criminal and work backgrounds) will ensure that you weed out the bad apples and keep the golden ones in your batch.

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Matt Faustman is the CEO at UpCounsel. You can follow his business insights on Twitter at @upcounsel.