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How to Spot and Avoid a Nightmare Tenant

All a landlord ever wants is a tenant that pays on time, takes care of the rented property, or isn’t disruptive to his neighbors. A perfect tenant. But no matter how much expectation we set, the world is also plagued by horrible people who want to cause us nothing but problems.

These nightmare tenants either do it on purpose or not. Either way, it is a hassle and could lead to a business setback. So how to spot one? Let’s explore below. 

1. The tenant wants to move in - immediately

They’re in trouble with the law or their previous landlord is looking for them for a variety of reasons. If the tenant is offering anything necessary such as high pay or cash on the spot just to avoid a background check, you’re likely to be in for some trouble.

2. Info of their previous landlord is either fake or incomplete

Ask questions about their previous landlord. If the background check on the previous landlord doesn’t reveal any information or is incomplete then that tenant is guaranteed to give you a headache. Also, watch for cues that a tenant badmouths their previous landlord. That tenant could do the same to you.

3. They’re hesitant to share their financial history

A financial history check is a good way to make sure your tenant pays on time. Poor credit evaluation, judgment, multiple bankruptcies, and collections are signs that your tenant will eventually pay rent late or will squat on your property.

4. Their personal info is bogus

If your tenant’s personal info doesn’t check in then that person is likely to be a lawbreaker. There will be a number of reasons why they hide their personal info and them being a nightmare tenant is one of them.

5. The bad luck script

The tenant brings up a sad story like their relative had cancer or their furry friend got sick and died. The landlord becomes sympathetic and listens, and the scamming tenant takes advantage. A bad tenant could get away with paying rent using this strategy. Fast forward a couple of months, the tenant squats and sublets the property then hogs all the cash. 

These situations sound scary enough, but there are also ways on how to avoid these kinds of scams. Check them out below.       

1. Prequalify through a phonecall and screen the tenant personally

Before personally interviewing a tenant, call them on the phone and ask for their name. This gives you a headstart on doing every step below before meeting them.

2. Do a thorough background check 

Check their criminal records if they’re wanted for arson, tax evasion, or any convictions and warrants. Do this by going to the local authorities and asking questions about the tenant’s record.

3. Contact the tenant’s previous landlord

On the phone ask for the tenant’s previous landlord’s name or contact info. Then call the prior landlord or talk to them personally and ask about the tenant’s behavior and credibility. Were they responsible enough to pay rent on time? Did they take care of the property before moving out?

4. Check and verify employment and credit

A tenant who works full-time at a good-paying job with excellent credit is a surefire indication of a tenant who can pay rent on time. Otherwise, don’t contact that tenant ever again.

5. Document everything

To save the hassle of a trial in case your nightmare applicant brings your refusal of rent to court, document every dirt you can find or document that the information they provided was fake. Contact your lawyer for further legal advice. 

The best way to save money, earn fairly, and secure your property is to be a mile ahead of the behavior of nightmare tenants. Always remember not to trust an applicant’s words and do everything that's necessary to find out whether the tenant could be a problem or not.

If you’re ready, make Landlord Prep your go-to resource for landlording education. Here, we offer a complete DIY landlording course to get you on the right track. Join our academy today. If you want, you can check out Flavia’s real estate investing webinar first!