There’s no doubt about it- working as a landlord is a hard job. Between marketing your rental properties to keeping up with maintenance to answering tenant inquiries, working as a landlord can leave you completely exhausted.
So, with all the hard work you put in as a landlord, the last thing you want to deal with is a bad tenant.
Bad tenants can eat up your time, energy, and money.
But, when people are signing a lease, they’re usually on their best behavior.
So, how are you supposed to know if a tenant is a bad one or a good one?
Check out this guide to learn the top warning signs of bad tenants.
1. They Try to Get Out of Filling Out the Rental Application
If someone is questioning why they have to fill out a rental application, that’s a red flag.
First of all, this is showing that the tenant already has issues when it comes to complying to basic rental procedures. And, this may be a sign that they have something to hide.
When someone asks you this question, you should just simply state that you have people fill out rental applications because it’s standard policy and you do it to keep you, your property, and your other tenants safe.
2. They Haggle Like Crazy
Is a tenant trying to get you to lower your rental fees before they even see the apartment? Or, are they trying to excessively haggle over the rent, deposits, and move-in fees?
While asking for a little money off of the rent isn’t uncommon, you never want to sign someone who is excessively haggling you or is asking for a lower price right from the get-go.
This is usually a sure-fire sign that the person cannot afford the place and that they already foresee themselves having trouble making rent down the road.
So, do yourself a favor and don’t sign these tenants.
3. Late Payments
If a tenant forgets to pay their rent once, don’t freak out. Sometimes we forget things, and that’s life.
Also, sometimes the first rent check can take a while longer to clear due to clerical issues at the bank.
However, if a tenant is continuously missing their rent payments, that’s a sign of more trouble down the road.
The best thing to do in this situation is to speak directly to the tenant to clear up any issues.
If your tenant has trouble remembering rent, offer to set up a direct deposit system with them. Or, if they’re super busy and always running around, make paying rent easy for them by installing a drop box at the front of the building. Chances are, this will clear up any late rent issues.
However, if this doesn’t seem to solve the issue, remind your tenants of the policies and procedures in regards to late rent.
4. They Refuse You Access to Their Apartment
Of course, as a landlord, you can’t just barge into a tenant’s apartment unannounced.
However, you do have the right to gain reasonable access to the apartment. This means you can enter the apartment to perform routine inspections and perform maintenance tasks.
But, remember to be respectful of your tenants and give them fair warning as to when you’re coming over.
If they keep coming up with excuses as to why you or the property manager can’t come at a certain time, something may be up.
Chances are, they may be hiding something, whether it be an illegal pet or a broken window.
5. They’re Constantly Complaining
If you have a good relationship with your tenants, you really shouldn’t be hearing from them all that often.
So, if you’re constantly getting emails and texts from your tenants filled with complaints, then that’s a sign that you’re dealing with some seriously bad tenants.
While some people are just natural complainers, your tenants may be complaining with the hope of you offering a discount on their rent. Or, they may be trying to build up a “case” so they don’t have to pay their rent altogether.
These complaints usually happen in the last couple months of the tenancy, when tenants are most worried about getting their damage deposits back.
If tenants complain, the best thing to do is to take away their ammunition by handling maintenance issues in a timely and courteous manner.
6. Unhappy Neighbors
Maybe it’s not the tenants you’re getting the constant complaints from, but rather, the neighbors.
If you’re constantly getting calls from neighbors about loud noises, disrespectful behavior or anything else, that’s a surefire sign that you’re dealing with a bad tenant.
The best thing to do is to approach the tenant directly about the complaint. However, don’t tell them which neighbor complained about them, as this can start a messy neighbor-on-neighbor fight.
Instead, just let your tenants know that there have been some complaints issued against them, and remind them that they need to be respectful of their neighbors. If the problem happens more than once, then remind them that you do have the right to evict them.
7. The Silent Treatment
It happens more often than you think…
A tenant stops paying their rent, and then they stop responding to all phone calls and emails. They’re also never home when you come knocking, no matter what time of day it is.
If this happens, you’ll want to move as fast as you can to start the eviction proceedings. When tenants disappear without notice, you’ll sometimes even need to hire a lawyer and prepare to go to court.
8. They Ask Personal Questions About Other Tenants
Some personal questions about other tenants are completely normal. For example, “Does anyone in this building have a pet?” Or, “Are there children living on the property?”
However, if a tenant asks about the daily schedules of other tenants or if there are any single girls in the apartment, then you probably don’t want to sign them.
They could be looking to burglarize other apartments or do something even worse.
9. They Ask if the Window Screens Can Be Removed
When a tenant asks about removing window screens, this may seem like a harmless question at first.
However, this could also be a sign that a tenant is looking to smoke inside their apartment building.
Oftentimes, tenants who smoke with the windows open often get lazy and just begin smoking indoors.
If you see a tenant fiddling with the smoke alarms, that’s another warning sign that they may be attempting to smoke inside the apartment.
The last thing you want is an apartment that smells like cigarettes. Therefore, make sure to kindly remind tenants of your building’s smoking policies.
10. They Don’t Have Any Professional References
If you’re renting to someone who is fresh out of high school, then sure, they may have trouble gathering some professional references.
But, someone who’s in their 20s or 30s? They should definitely have some references racked up from bosses, coworkers, or other professional relationships.
If you notice that a renter writes down relatives for all of their professional references, then that’s either a sign that they’ve never rented before or that there are some sketchy issues in their past.
11. Their Talk of Employment is in the Future or Past
When showing a tenant a property, pay special attention to how they refer to their current state of employment.
If they talk about a “previous job” or a “business that they’re just starting”, then that likely means that they don’t have steady income at the moment and that they’ll have trouble paying rent.
To resolve any concern you have, the best thing to do is to ask for their most recent pay stubs.
If they’re reluctant to give these, then that’s a sure sign that they’re a bad tenant who likely won’t be able to make rent.
12. They Pay All Deposits and Rent in Cash
While some tenants simply pay rent in cash as a matter of convenience, this could also be a warning sign that a tenant is trying to avoid leaving a paper trail.
If they’re trying to avoid a paper trail, it could mean that they’re involved in illegal dealings. So, be cautious.
Bad Tenants: Do You Have One on Your Hands?
Now that you know the top warning signs of bad tenants, it’s time to ask yourself, “Do I have a bad tenant on my hands?”
If the answer is yes, then you need to confront the tenant to make sure whatever issue is going on doesn’t get worse. And, don’t be afraid to remind them of your rights to evict them.