Warning Signs of Bad Tenants

Published: 16th October 2009
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Your property is ready for occupancy, and you probably can't wait for someone to fill out the rental application and make you a landlord. However, don't rush! It's worth letting your investment stay vacant for a short time while you make sure that the completed rental application tells the right story. In addition to being satisfied with the rental application information, you also need to know about various other warning signs that can help you guard against entrusting your property to a bad tenant

The first thing to do is to ensure that the details on the rental application indicate that the prospective tenant will look after your property and pay the rent on time. Wherever possible, you also need to ascertain that the information provided on the rental application is accurate. This shouldn't take too much time and will probably involve only a few phone calls or personal inquiries.

The work of checking out the rental application is well worth any time and effort involved for the peace of mind it will give you. For example, just because the rental application states that a would-be tenant is employed doesn't necessarily mean this is so. You need to verify the employment details by visiting the stated place of employment or phoning. If you phone, listen carefully to make sure it sounds like a genuine business, because there are cases where apparent workplace phone numbers on a rental application are actually the phone numbers of the applicant's relatives or friends.

If a person making a rental application is unwilling for you to check his or her credit, this could be a warning sign that you would be taking on a bad tenant. Applicants may argue that such checks will affect their credit score, but the truth is that a check by a prospective landlord is regarded as a "soft hit" and will remain on the credit report for only a few months. Someone who doesn't want a credit check made may have financial issues that are not evident on the rental application. It could also happen that a person who resists any checks you want to make even before they move in could be a troublesome tenant in the future.

Another warning sign to watch for is reluctance by someone to fill out the rental application. Even if you know the applicant, there is every reason to insist on having the rental application completed. Anyone who objects to doing so may have something to hide. Even if they don't, there is already a strong indication that they will be difficult to deal with. Requiring a prospective tenant to fill out a rental application is part of the business of being a landlord, and you have every right to require people to do so.

As a landlord you should also be wary of applicants who want to rush through the rental application process by forcing cash on you, promising large amounts in advance, or offering you a deposit. It's better to be sure that your rent will be paid regularly than to receive irregular amounts of money. It may even be illegal to accept such money in connection with a rental application, and you should check the laws of your state in this regard.

In addition to these business matters, use your common sense and intuition in relation to each rental application. If the applicant makes you feel uncomfortable, he or she may not be the right person for your property. As well as considering each rental application you receive, you should therefore consider the applicant and choose the one with whom you think you can enjoy a stable, trouble-free relationship in the future.

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