How To Avoid Problem Tenants

July 14th, 2015 · Tell Me What You Really Think Here · Property Management

An old tenant house with a mud chimney and cotton growing up to its door, which is occupied by Mulattoes, Melrose, La.  (LOC)

How to Avoid Problem Tenants

A problem tenant who is always late with his payments and doesn’t think twice about trashing the house and vanishing leaving behind repairs worth thousands of dollars is every landlord’s nightmare. So as a landlord, how do you protect yourself and your property from the tenant from hell?

  • Rely on your first impression

Your first impression or gut feeling about a person is bound to be right almost always.  An unkempt appearance, impolite behaviour or insistence on an upfront cash payment for six months can all be signs of something amiss. Don’t get into a rental agreement with the first person who shows interest just because an empty rental home is going to hamper your cash inflow. People who insist on an upfront cash payment for an extended period often do so because they don’t want you coming around the house for the next few months. And if he seems uninterested in his own personal grooming, then it’s highly unlikely that he’ll look after your property.

  • Identity proof

Ask them to show you their drivers license as proof of identity. Have they put their real name on the rental application?

  • Ask for references

Every tenant’s application should include at least two references, one from their employer – to verify that they have a job as they claim and another from a previous landlord. If possible, try to contact their employer directly instead of using the phone number they have given you to confirm that your tenant works for them. There have been cases where landlords have been misled by tenants with the help of friends posing as employers.

  • Verify credit history

Ask your prospective tenant to give you written permission for a credit check. A private screening service should be able to perform the credit check and collect the necessary information, including whether the tenant has a history of late payments, whether it was a one-time occurrence or when they happened. Though this will incur a small fee, it is well worth the expense and can save you from a huge loss in future.

You can also ask them to show you a copy of their bank statement or pay slip. You do need proof that they can pay you the rent on time!

Can he provide a rental guarantor? This is especially important if the applicant is young, newly employed and doesn’t have a long credit history. Don’t forget to make sure that the rental guarantor has the necessary financial standing to make good on the rental payment if your tenant suddenly decides to vanish.

  • Check out their current home

If they are currently renting a single family home, drop by to find out how they have maintained the property. A quick chitchat with neighbours can give you a great deal of information on their partying habits and whether they have had problems with other residents.

  • Proper documentation

The importance of a well-defined tenancy agreement cannot be overstated. If in doubt, start with a short-term lease for six months. All correspondence between you and the tenant should be documented and saved to avoid any misunderstanding.

Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding waves he writes about rental homes for


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