8 Warning Signs You Should Never Ignore During Tenant Screening
Tenant screening is a vital part of running a successful rental property business. After all, the rent your tenants pay each month is where your money comes from. If they don’t pay, you don’t get paid. Worse yet, if they damage your property, you could end up in a time-consuming legal battle trying to recoup your losses.
The process of tenant screening is a complex one that requires knowledge and experience. That’s why so many people opt to have rental property management in Phoenix handle it for them.
That said, even if you self-manage your Phoenix rental, you can screen tenants so long as you know the warning signs to look out for. You don’t want to lock yourself into a lease agreement with a problem tenant. But by learning the red flags of problematic tenants, you can prevent a lot of issues.
8 Red Flags of Problematic Tenants
1. Inconsistent Income
Checking a potential tenant’s ability to pay the monthly rent should be a priority for you. Again, if your tenants don’t pay, you don’t make any money.
Whenever you’re screening tenants, you should always verify employment and income. In fact, it’s best to place a tenant in your rental property that makes 2-3 times the monthly rent rate. This helps ensure that even if your tenant experiences a financial emergency their ability to pay rent won’t be affected.
You should also look for things like spotty employment, those ‘in between’ jobs, and people without solid employer references. All these warning signs indicate your tenant may have trouble paying the rent at some time during the lease term. The last thing you want on your hands is a tenant filing for bankruptcy and not paying the rent.
2. Prior Evictions
We all know things happen in life that we wish hadn’t. Sometimes they involve our personal relationships, our employment status, or even our finances. And while people do generally deserve second chances, one thing you should always avoid is leasing to a tenant that has had a prior eviction.
Taking a risk on a potential tenant that at some point has breached a lease agreement to the point they were evicted is not something you should do. Other people without prior evictions on their records are more than willing to lease from you. This is especially true if you have reliable property management in Phoenix helping you market your vacancy.
3. Not All People Agree to Apply
All people over the age of 18 that will be living in your rental property must apply. This applies to families and roommates.
If an adult that will be living with the primary tenant refuses to apply, you should consider that a major red flag. After all, those with nothing to hide submit to things like background and credit checks.
It’s true that all adult tenants living in your property will be responsible for paying the rent. But we’ve all heard about roommate situations gone bad because one person refuses to pay up. If you decide to lease to roommates, make sure everyone applies and signs the lease agreement to protect yourself and your property.
4. They Hassle You About Paying the Security Deposit
Rental property management in Phoenix will tell you to always collect a security deposit. It protects you from those times you missed the red flags and placed a problematic tenant in your property. And tenants know that if they leave your investment property in good condition, they’ll get their deposit back.
Anyone that hassles you about paying a security deposit either doesn’t have enough money or doesn’t plan to care for your property the way you’d like them to. Either way, you should move on to the next prospective tenant.
5. They Move a Lot
Sometimes people need to move more than they’d like to because of family or job situations. However, if you notice an applicant that has moved a lot, you should question their ability to stay in your property for the length of the lease term.
In addition, anyone that was previously living with a friend or relative can signal a problem. Of course, more millennials than ever are living with their parents until they are adults. But some people live with family or friends after an eviction because they can’t find anywhere else to live.
One way to navigate these two red flags is to simply talk to the potential tenant. Who knows, they may have a good explanation for their frequent moves or prior living situations. While the paper results you have during tenant screening are helpful, there’s something to be said about your gut instincts after a face-to-face conversation.
6. You Discover a Criminal Record
Whether a possible tenant has the money to pay the rent or not, one thing is true: a criminal past spells future trouble.
Besides running a credit check and verifying income and employment, you should always run a thorough background check on every applicant. Just because someone doesn’t admit to having a shady past on their application doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And it’s your responsibility to do your due diligence if you want to avoid a problematic tenant.
Here are some of the worst convictions you should watch out for:
- Drug offenses
- Driving without a license or insurance
- Public disturbances
- Assault and battery
- Multiple traffic stops
- Burglary or theft
Just because someone made a mistake in the past doesn’t mean they’ll do it again. But it’s best to let another property owner find that out, not you.
7. They Wave Money at You in Hopes You’ll Bite
Everyone loves money. And the fact that a prospective tenant has plenty of money upfront might seem like a good problem to have. However, many people with things to hide or not enough money to last try to entice property owners with extra money upfront just to get into a place. Then, come the second or third month, you find out your tenant can’t pay the rent on time (if at all) and you have to start the eviction process.
Now, all that money you had in the beginning pales in comparison to the money you’re going to have to shell out to fix this bad situation.
If someone truly has the money to pay the rent each month, they’ll follow your tenant screening process with patience and wait for you to approve them. Then, much to your delight, they’ll pay the rent each month on time and everyone will be happy.
8. They’re Vague About Their Pets
According to the American Veterinary Association, nearly 50% of renters have pets. Of those that don’t, 35% claim that if their landlord allowed pets, they’d get one.
Needless to say, people love their furry friends.
If you’ve decided to have a flexible pet policy, that’s great! Catering to those with pets can be a great way to find high-quality tenants willing to pay a little extra to give Fido a place to sleep at night. But when you allow pets into your rental property, it’s likely you have some rules in place about:
- Types of pets allowed
- Number of pets allowed
- Non-refundable cleaning deposits per pet
- Required vaccination records
If the person you’re trying to place in your Phoenix rental property is vague about their pets, they either have too many and have lost count, are trying to dodge the deposits, or are hiding a type that’s not allowed. No matter the case, this is a huge red flag and you should move on with your tenant screening.
Are you interested in having rental property management in Phoenix handle tenant screening for you?
Screening Services Are Included with Our Rental Property Management in Phoenix
At Brewer & Stratton Property Management we know how important it is to properly screen all prospective tenants. We’ve seen what problematic tenants can do to a landlord and their investment property and strive to avoid situations like that at all costs thanks to our strict tenant screening process.
In fact, we’re so dedicated to placing nothing short of high-quality tenants in your property that we have a 12 Month Tenant Guarantee that says if a tenant leaves your property without good cause, we’ll cover the cost of placing a new tenant in your rental.
So, what do you say? Why not let us handle tenant screening so you can enjoy being a property owner without having to deal with the nitty gritty work like avoiding problematic tenants.