There are a lot of different types of people out there, with different personalities, quirks, attitudes, and opinions—and trust us, we’ve rented to them all! Over the past several years, there are certain character types we’ve learned to quickly run away from. These traits are not invisible and can usually be discovered by doing thorough tenant screening prior to approving a new tenant. Tenant screening involves more than verifying that your tenant earns an adequate income, has some references, and hasn’t murdered anyone. You also need to make sure they aren’t going to drive you crazy while they are your tenant! Hopefully this list of seven “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.
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7 Types of Tenants I’ll Never Rent to
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 he 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 employers 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. 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 her boyfriend Dirty Dan, leaving the landlord with a mess and no rent.
4. Dave the Dealer
Dave the Dealer doesn’t seem like such a bad tenant—on the surface. 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 ‘80s 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 the 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 gets 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 for landlords. He doesn’t have the business sense that Dave the Dealer has, so he sim-
ply consumes the goods that Dave 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 seen Steve jogging around the block in nothing but his underwear, waving a plunger. With only lava lamps to light the way, Steve tends to keep to himself in his dark apartment, Power Ranger bed sheets strung across every window making sure it’s generally as dark as possible inside his place.
Steve eventually loses his job, but decides that there’s a better alternative 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 Larry the Lawyer may not be the kind of tenant we want in our properties. Why? 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 rentals out there where Larry might live—we just don’t want him in ours.
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 will let bugs 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 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.
Whew! Of course, this was meant to be exaggerated, but the fact remains: There are certain types of tenants you simply do not want to deal with. If there is one lesson we’ve learned as landlords, it’s this: Wait for the right tenant and screen everyone, even if they seem nice at the beginning. We do not advocate ever discriminating against a tenant for any of the protected classes, but this doesn’t mean you need to accept the first tenant who shows interest in your property.
By rushing and putting in a tenant who will cause you months or years of headaches, you are only costing yourself more money and stress in the long run. Do your due diligence with every prospective tenant. Dig into their background, their credit, their previous landlord references, their social media, their job history, and anything else you can (legally) find, 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.
[This article is an excerpt from Brandon Turner’s The Book on Managing Rental Properties.]
Which characters from the above list have you encountered? Have some usual suspects of your own?
Let me know with a comment!