There are a lot of different types of people out there, with different personalities, quirks, attitudes, and opinions – and trust me, I think I’ve rented to them all. However, over the past seven years, there are certain character types I’ve learned to quickly run the other way from. These traits are not difficult to discover by doing a thorough tenant screening job, which is why I spent more than 5,000 words last year creating the Ultimate Guide to Tenant Screening. Go ahead – go check it out. We’ll be here when you get back!
Today I want to share with you some of these character traits so you can hopefully avoid these tenants at all costs. Hopefully this list of ten “fictitious but totally plausible” tenant types will give you a good idea of who you should be watching out for when renting out a property.
Let’s get started.
Download Your FREE Rental Application Form!
It may seem like a small thing, but having a solid rental application is the first step in finding great tenants. Since BiggerPockets is all about helping you succeed in real estate investing, we’ve put together a complimentary Rental Application for you to use. Download it today and go find some great tenants!
1.) Entitled Tim
Entitled Tim grew up as the baby in the family, so naturally expects the world to be handed to him on a platter. Tim expects the landlord to abide by his every wish because Entitled Tim deserves it. Before even becoming a tenant, he shows up to the property showing and immediately informs the landlord that the stove and fridge have been used before, so they will need to be replaced. Clearly, Entitled Tim deserves only brand new appliances, carpet, countertops, and paint.
Only the best for Entitled Tim, because the world owes it to him.
2.) Dirty Dan
Dirty Dan isn’t just dirty – he’s filthy and doesn’t care.
Not only is Dirty Dan dirty, but his kids Rotten Roger and Grimy Gale also contribute to the mess. Every wall in the home will soon be covered in an artistic collage of mud, crayon, and hair (from Dirty Dan’s oversized Dingy Dog.) Dirty Dan doesn’t understand that vacuuming needs to be done more than once a year and garbage tossed out the back window won’t be magically placed in the garbage can. He laughs when his children pour red Kool-aid all down the hallway and changes his motorcycle oil on the living room carpet.
Sometimes Dan’s girlfriend Lazy Laura comes by and offers to help clean up, but usually ends up just making a bigger mess for everyone and joins in the filth. Dirty Dan knows he isn’t the cleanest, so he avoids calling the landlord at all costs so his dirtiness will never be found out, even when a water supply line breaks in the ceiling and begins destroying the drywall in the kitchen. Eventually, Dirty Dan will move out, and adamantly insist that he should get his entire security deposit back.
3.) Lazy Laura
Laura hasn’t held a job in more than six years because her bosses have all demanded too much. Lazy Laura doesn’t understand why everyone is always in such a hurry to do things! “Eat, drink, and be Merry” is Lazy Laura’s motto in life, and most of her days are consumed watching episodes of talk shows trying to determine who the baby’s daddy is, but Lazy Laura usually guesses wrong.
Between the frequent naps and endless time spent on Facebook, Lazy Laura sometimes remembers to pay the rent on time, but usually will pay it when it’s most convenient or when the consequences of not paying become greater than the inconvenience of needing to get off the couch. Laura eventually leaves without giving notice, moving in with Dirty Dan, leaving the landlord with a mess and no rent.
4.) Dave the Dealer
Dave the Dealer, on the surface, doesn’t seem like such a bad tenant.
It seems like he’d be a really fun guy to hang out with at a party and he reminds you of the goofball in those 80’s movies you used to enjoy so much. Dave is smart, articulate, and overly polite. Even better, as a tenant, Dave the Dealer always pays his rent on time and even goes the extra mile to get you rent in cash before it’s due. Although he gets a lot of foot traffic in and out of this property (several dozen shady looking characters a day,) he keeps a clean house and never causes problems.
However, Dave the Dealer’s good streak can only last so long before the cops break down the front door and haul him down to the county jail. Suddenly, Dave’s cash is a little tight and some questionable people are hanging around his house while he’s locked up. The house get’s tagged with some explicit cartoon drawings, and the front window is smashed through with a rock from another Dealer. It soon becomes clear that Dave the Dealer isn’t such a fun guy after all.
5.) Steve the Stoner
Steve the Stoner is another “fun” tenant we seem to see a lot of.
He doesn’t have the business sense that Dan the Dealer has, so he simply consumes the goods that Dan deals. Steve the Stoner isn’t a violent fellow, but the neighbors complain of loud noises coming through the walls late at night, and have even seem Steve jogging around the block in nothing but his underwear and a plunger. Steve tends to keep to himself, with the Power Ranger bed sheets strung across every window in his apartment, making sure it’s generally as dark as possible inside his place, using only lava lamps to light the way.
Steve eventually loses his job, but decides that there are better alternatives to job hunting: getting stoned. Luckily, you won’t have to evict Steve, cause he’ll just trash the property and leave in the middle of the night.
6.) Larry the Lawyer
There is nothing wrong with having a good attorney on your team, but renting to Larry the Lawyer is not the kind of tenant I want in my properties.
Because Larry knows how to work the system. Larry knows how to skip paying rent for six months and avoid prosecution by using obscure technicalities and irritating loopholes. Larry the Lawyer enjoys tormenting his landlord and making a game out of his misery. There are a lot of places out there that Larry might live… but I just don’t want him at mine.
7.) Dramatic Darla
Dramatic Darla is the first to let you know about the talking she can hear through the walls of her apartment. She is also extremely nervous about the paint that got on the outlet cover in the kitchen during the last interior paint job, the neighbor (Dirty Dan) three houses down who has far too many cars parked in his driveway, and the nail hole in the ceiling that clearly the bugs are all coming in through.
Dramatic Darla spends a lot of time on WebMD, trying to determine the illness her child suddenly has – which was probably caused by faulty drywall in the home she is renting. Dramatic Darla demands that her landlord install a whole-house air purifier because of the toxic air quality outside, and threatens to withhold the rent because she saw an ant in her pantry.
Dramatic Darla has also Googled you, found your personal cell phone number, and makes every attempt to call at least once per day.
Of course, I’m being a little dramatic with this post but the fact remains: there are certain types of tenants you simply do not want to deal with. If there is one lesson I’ve learned as a landlord it’s this: wait for the right tenant. I don’t advocate ever discriminating against a tenant for any of the protected classes, but this doesn’t mean you need to take any tenant who comes off the street. As Mike Butler states in his book Landlording on Auto-Pilot – “Dirty is not a protected class.”
By rushing and putting in a tenant that will cause you months or years of headaches, you are only costing yourself more money and stress in the long run. Do you due diligence with every prospective tenant: dig into their background, their credit, their previous landlord references, and job history, and anything else you can (legally) find out and try to get a feel for what kind of tenant they are going to be.
Before you rent to any tenant, take a moment and ask yourself one important question:
Is this a tenant I am willing to bet part of my financial future on?
If not – move on and find a safer bet.
What about you? Have you rented to any of these tenants in your business? Am I missing a tenant type? Add your comments below!