If you’re planning to rent out your home, proceed with caution as you interview prospective tenants—a bad renter could ruin the experience of an income property. Watch out for these seven red flags so you don’t get caught in an unfortunate rental situation.
- Your tenant can’t prove employment.
Check tenant employment by asking for a paystub or W2. Request a bank statement if your tenant claims to be self-employed. If you cannot verify income through these channels, do not rent.
- Your tenant doesn’t want to provide past addresses.
A tenant who is vague about their prior address may have something to hide, like homelessness or a jail stint, advises American Apartment Owners. Require this as part of a thorough tenant screening, and follow up by verifying those addresses.
- Your tenant seems nervous about a credit check. A quality tenant with a history of paying rent and utilities on time should not fear a credit check as part of tenant screening. Don’t rent to anyone with poor credit, as you might be setting yourself up for income problems down the line.
- Your tenant shows up to a viewing with a U-Haul. If a prospective tenant shows up move-in ready before you’ve even met, this is a major red flag. Unless a potential tenant is living temporarily with a family member or friend, it is standard to give a 30 day-notice to the current landlord or property management company.
- Your tenant wants to know how many pets you allow. Many pet owners make very responsible tenants. However, a potential tenant who wants to know “what kind” or “how many” pets he can have may be trying to sneak in dangerous or illegal pets. If you decide to accept pets, consider asking for a pet deposit so you can clean up after any pet damage to the home. When interviewing tenants with pets, ask the pet’s age, size, temperament, whether the pet has bitten anyone or caused property damage, and who will care for the pet should the tenant take a vacation. Responsible pet owners should have no problem answering these questions.
- Your tenant tries to impress you with bling. Yes, a good tenant will try to make their best impression during a viewing. However, a tenant who tries to impress you by drawing your attention to his flashy car, gold ring or designer clothing is hoping to distract your attention from something else. A tenant’s credit score, past landlord references, and evidence of employment should make the impression, not his clothes.
- Something seems fishy. If the tenant is saying all the right things, but you still feel uneasy, trust your gut. It’s better to be safe than sorry when your rental property is on the line.