Tenants are the lifeblood of the landlording business. But as landlords, we don’t want just anyone as our tenants. We want good quality people who will pay, stay and respect our properties. We want tenants who will not cause problems, either to us or to our other tenants. We landlords already have enough problems to deal with, and the last thing we need is to add to those by selecting a tenant that will make numerous unreasonable requests, burn up the phone lines or just be a general pain.
Tenant screening is one key to finding good tenants. Another key is being aware of characteristics that can signal a potential problem. Over the years, experience has shown that there are several characteristics landlords should beware of and that are worthy of further investigation. I’m not saying that the following characteristics always present a problem, just that years of experience have taught me to look deeper and be a bit more cautious.
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7 Types of Tenants Who Cause MAJOR Landlord Headaches
1. The Storyteller
The storyteller has always got to explain things before he answers your questions. Even the simplest questions that should require only a yes or no answer come with a long and convoluted story. For example, if you were to ask, “Have you ever been evicted?” instead of a yes or no answer, you are like to get a response such as, “You see there was this time when my roommate…”
Be careful with the storyteller. Listen to the stories if you want to, but understand that the storyteller often thinks they can gloss things over and smooth talk their way into your property. Beware and don’t fall for it.
2. The Momma’s Boy
You know the type — the child who just can’t seem to cut those apron strings. Despite being 30 years old, they have never really made a decision on their own in their entire life and have not had to. Mom (or Dad) has made all of the decisions for them. This type shows up to apartment viewings, lease signings and other appointments with mom and/or dad in tow. They never talk to you; rather, mom does all the talking, negotiating, etc.
Does this mean mom and dad coming along is always bad? No. But you can usually tell the child who is trying to spread their wings from one who has been coddled all their life. Beware of this type of applicant. Have they ever held their own job or been on their own before? They often have no clue how to live on their own or how to manage their lives. They and their mom could be a load of problems down the road.
3. The Spoiled Deadbeat
This type also has mom and/or dad in tow, but they are really excited to tell you how wonderful their kid is and how great a tenant he or she will be when the kid is indifferent and unengaged. The parents offer to pay the deposit, co-sign, anything to get you to rent to their wonderful kid.
Beware. There is potentially something wrong that they are trying to dump on you. Most likely they just want them out of the house. But you have to ask yourself why. What is wrong with this kid? Perhaps it is nothing. Or perhaps the kid is a lazy deadbeat.
4. The Perfectionist
We have all had a perfectionist in our lives at some point. They drove you crazy, didn’t they? Nothing is ever good enough. Do you want to let one live in one of your properties? Will anything ever be right for them, or will they constantly harass you with phone calls about this little thing or that little thing? Beware of the perfectionist.
5. The Complainer
The complainer often shows up and very quickly lets the tongue start flapping: “My last landlord never fixed anything.” Or perhaps, “The property was never maintained, and the other tenants were trashy.” “Will that be fixed?” “This room is really small.” “Who lives next door? I don’t like a lot of noise!”
The complaints go on and on. And they likely will go on and on if you let them in your property. A bit of complaining is normal. But beware of anyone who complains too much.
6. The All Cash Dealer
The all cash dealer looks and sounds really good. They wave a lot of cash in front of you stating that they can pay the deposit along with first and last month’s rent today. They might even say they want to pay a year’s rent upfront. Sounds great, right? But you have to ask yourself why they are doing this.
Sure, there could be a multitude of legitimate reasons, but it is not normal. Paying a year upfront is not how things are normally done. Could they be trying to hide something? Maybe, maybe not. Again you need to beware. Plus, think about this — how do you evict someone who has paid a year of rent upfront if things go south? It is possible, but a bit more difficult.
7. The Space Cadet
Ever have someone get lost five times while trying to make it to a showing? Could they never seem to get the correct address or the correct time to show up? You might be dealing with a space cadet, and again, you need to beware of letting this person into your life. Can they remember to pay the rent on time, or will you constantly be calling them? Will they be able to care for your property? Again, the answer is maybe or maybe not. You just need to dig a little deeper to be sure they are nothing more than a bit directionally challenged.
Remember, I am not saying that folks displaying these characteristics should automatically be disqualified. What I am saying is that you need to be on the lookout for these characteristics, and if you see them, beware. Check out the stories, review the cash dealer’s background, talk to the complainer’s previous landlord and current boss. Remember that rudeness and promptness can count. Remember also not to discriminate against the protected classes and to have your selection criteria written down and on file.
[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help landlords who have found BiggerPockets more recently. Let me know what you think with a comment!]
What characteristics do you look out for? What makes you say “no way?”
Leave a comment below, and let’s help each other avoid bad tenant situations!