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How to Spot a Bad Tenant Early

Spotting a bad tenant early can be challenging, but it is a critical component of an investment property. It can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road. As a landlord, you want to make sure your tenants not only pay their rent on time but also stay out of trouble and adhere to the terms of their lease.

Today, we’re going to see what landlords can do to avoid nightmare tenants.

Thorough tenant screening

Make sure that you do a thorough tenant screening on all potential tenants. This includes running a credit check, conducting a criminal background check, and running a tenant eviction history search. Credit history will tell you things such as if the tenant is consistently late on payments or has defaulted on any debts, which could indicate unreliable rent payments. A criminal history check will provide an understanding of their previous criminal activity if any.

An eviction history search will allow you to see if they have been evicted from any rental properties in the past, which may indicate they are a difficult tenant.

Last but not least, it’s also a good idea to call up their previous landlords and ask about their experience with the tenant. Doing this can give you insight into whether or not the tenant would be a good fit for your property.

Carefully read through the lease agreement

Reading through the lease agreement in detail is extremely important to help ensure that you and the tenant have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions of the lease. Be sure to have the tenant read through the agreement and sign it before they move in. This will help to protect you and your property should a dispute arise.

Ask potential tenants questions

Meeting with them in person and asking potential tenants questions can help you to get to know them better, and it can also help you to better understand why they are looking to move. During this meeting, you will want to ask them questions about their rental history, how they plan on using the rental space and if they have any special requests. After the meeting, it can be helpful to follow up with any additional questions or requests.

Look for red flags

During the tenant screening process, it’s always important to keep an eye out for red flags. One of the most common red flags for a bad tenant is a poor credit score. A credit score is an indication of a person’s financial health, and if it is bad, it can indicate the person might not be able to pay their rent on time.

Another potential red flag is a history of evictions. If a potential tenant has a history of getting evicted from prior rental properties, it is a sign that they have had issues in the past with either paying their rent on time or following the rules and regulations of their prior leases.

Also, if their references don’t come back with wholly positive reviews, or if the tenant doesn’t seem to understand the basic terms of the lease agreement, you may want to think twice about allowing them to move in.

Pay attention to their behavior

After you’ve taken all the necessary steps to ensure that your tenant is a good fit, it’s important to keep an eye on their behavior while they’re living in your rental property. If they’re not keeping up with their rent payments, causing a disturbance, or otherwise breaking the rules of the lease, this can be a sign that they may be a bad tenant.

Also, if a potential tenant does not seem to take the process seriously or does not have the proper documentation ready during the process of applying to rent a unit, this is also a bad sign. A tenant who is organized and transparent during the process of applying is more likely to be reliable and responsible.


By following these tips, you can spot a bad tenant early on and save yourself time, money, and headaches. Make sure that you take the time to thoroughly vet potential tenants and watch out for any red flags. The earlier you spot potential problems, the better prepared you will be to take action.

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