What Are the Warning Signs of a Future Bad Tenant?

A single bad tenant might be enough to cause significant harm to your business. Just as there is no defined profile for what makes a good tenant, the same applies to a bad tenant. Nevertheless, there are several red flags landlords should not ignore if they want to avoid entering a long-term relationship with a bad tenant:

  • Being careless and trying to conceal information: A prospective tenant provides little information when filling out the rental application form. Failing to fill out the necessary fields, leaving significant gaps, or even providing inaccurate information are all signs of a potentially careless tenant. Furthermore, this behavior may indicate a tenant who is trying to conceal important information about themselves.

  • Difficult to get background information: The potential tenant’s background information check is unusually difficult to perform and the information is hard to find. The applicant’s references may always be unavailable, or they may have gaps in their employment history. If you encounter a tenant who makes it unusually hard for you to find their background information, you should proceed with caution.

  • No structured or clear career plan: Another cause for concern is if a prospective tenant does not have a clear life plan for the time they will be occupying your property. If their job situation is uncertain, how can you be certain you will receive rent payments on time? In the same way, not having a steady job may mean they are more likely to leave mid-lease if they have a better opportunity. This puts you as a landlord in the difficult situation of having to find a new tenant to take their place.

  • Negotiate for complicated payment terms without a good reason: As a landlord in a non-rent-controlled area, you have the right to set the rental price and when payment is due. One red flag is a tenant who tries to set up a complicated payment plan before even signing your lease. This most likely indicates they do not have the necessary funds and will be unlikely to make the full rent payment on time. If there is no good reason for a change in terms, you may be better off moving onto the next applicant.

  • Move in with more people: While not a red flag in and of itself, having a tenant who wants to move in with more people is problematic if the tenant doesn’t want their names on the lease. A tenant may take two routes while attempting to rent with more people: one is to let you know in advance that they are occupying your property with more people (either family members or friends). In this situation, your tenant will usually ask you to include them in the contract as co-tenants—provided that they are over 18 years of age. The second one is when the tenant does not ask permission and does not want other names on the lease. Usually, a responsible tenant will ask for your permission; it’s your job to be diligent enough to have their names included in the contract. If you find a tenant who refuses to do so, then you should probably refuse to lease your property to them.

  • Ask about running a home-based business: They ask about running a home-based business in your property that might disturb neighbors and other tenants. A home office is an undeniable growing trend, especially in urban areas. However, as a landlord you should be inquisitive about the nature of the business. Is an applicant employing more people to work from your property? How often will they require supplies to be delivered to your property? Is it going to cause a nuisance to other neighbors? You should take all of these factors into account before allowing a tenant to run a home-based business. If you think the business might be problematic, then you may have encountered a potentially bad tenant.