How to Avoid Bad Tenants

Author: Todd Christiansen | Category: Tenants

I could probably write a novel on this topic!  No, I am not going to write about the hundreds of experiences I have had.  This is not World’s Worst Tenants!

Bad tenants are difficult, but not impossible to avoid.  Getting one will make you question why you ever got into the investment property business. They can be difficult to get rid of and may leave you somewhat gun shy to rent to anyone again.  So how can you do your best to avoid bad tenants?

  • Look at how and where you are advertising.  Do you put a $1.58 sign in the yard with handwritten information on it?  Alternatively, advertising on-line will at least bring you tenants that own a computer and maybe have a job.
  • Where your property is located may give you a higher percentage of bad tenants.  Some neighborhoods have landlords that do not perform any background checks on their tenants and therefore the area does attract tenants with past problems.  These bad neighbors may be spilling over into your applicants.
  • What are you renting your home for?  I have found that if you discount the rent, you will actually be getting calls and applications from tenants that are not as concerned with living in a nice place.  These same tenants seem to have problems that follow them including non-payment of rent, police calls, and damage to the property.  If you can push the rent to your home higher, but also put out a better product, you will find the tenants that want more than just a roof over their head.
  • What is the condition of your rental unit?  This is similar to the above unit.  If the tenant sees that you don’t care about your property, they may think that you are going to be an absentee landlord and let them get away with things.  They are also not going to care about you or your building.
  • Sit down and write up a tenant screening criteria. It may be simple such as no previous tenant evictions and no felonies and at last a 500 credit score.  It doesn’t matter what the criteria is, but then when you get a tenant application, you must stick to those criteria.  Every year re-evaluate those criteria to see if you should change them.  I suspect that if you look at the tenants that have been problems over the last 12 months, it is because either you deviated from your criteria or your criteria was too low.
  • When screening tenants, you should do a credit, criminal, and rental background check.  Make sure to do all three.  Pay to have a service do it so that you are not missing any piece of it.  Charge the tenant applicant the cost.  The added benefit of charging the fee is that tenants with problems in their past will typically not apply!
  • Call the tenant’s previous two landlords.  Insist  that you will not rent to someone unless you speak to both the last landlords.  These people should be able to tell you what that tenant was like, how they paid rent, and if there were any issues.  Ask them if they have ever had to send an eviction notice letter to that tenant.  These landlords may also be great contacts for future eviction advice.

Taking a holistic approach to your entire tenant screening process should shed some light on where the bad tenants are getting in.  Clean those areas up as soon as possible and continue to refine the process to make sure you can spot them early.

One Response to “How to Avoid Bad Tenants”

  1. Its better to avoid bad tenants at the first place rather than going for evictions later on. Evicting a tenant can become a nightmare for the landlords. The landlords should set such a criteria for tenant screening that majority of the bad tenants are screened at the very first step. After that they should take the service of a good tenant screening service to make the necessary background checks on the prospective tenants. This can help them avoid bad tenants in their properties.