4 Red Flags When Screening a Tenant

Whenever you are considering renting to someone, make sure you keep an eye out for these four red flags so you don’t end up regretting giving them the keys.

They’re Ready to Move in Right Away

For the most part, people should be looking for their new place long before it’s time to move out of their old place. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Someone may have to move to a new area for work. They may be going through a breakup or divorce. Other legitimate reasons exist too, but these should be rare.

If a tenant is ready for the keys the same day you first speak with them, this should be a red flag because it might be a sign that they were either recently evicted or cut and ran on an old landlord.

It could also mean something less nefarious, but no less revealing: maybe they’re just not good planners. They put off moving until the last week of their current lease and are desperate to live anywhere with a roof. Is this the type of tenant you want? How confident are you that they’ll pay rent on time?

Their References Don’t Check Out

This one is obvious. If a prospective tenant provides you with fake references, there is no valid excuse for this. We’re still including this as a red flag, though, because it’s an important reminder to follow up on the references provided.

One way someone with a checkered past will get past the problem of having to provide references is by just listing their friends. They hope you’ll call them and feel assured by an actual person answering who knows the potential tenant.

To overcome this ruse, make sure you ask each “landlord” about specific details: for example, how long did they rent the place? Most won’t plan ahead enough to make sure their accomplices are all on the same page.

Social Media Isn’t Reassuring You

Thanks to social media, it’s become easier than ever to check up on people you are considering renting to. Landlords of the past would have loved being able to see if the clean-cut, well-dressed, polite person in front of them was really like this 24/7. Though some people keep their social media profiles private, you’d be surprised by how many do not. While it’s unfair to expect that people never let their hair down, if you can tell by their social media presence that they love late-night parties and other troubling behavior, this should definitely be a big red flag.

They’re Moving in with Current Tenants

If your current tenants ask about a friend moving in, be sure you put them through a rigorous screening process. Just like with someone who is ready to move in ASAP, this is often a sign that the person has been given the boot and is now looking to live with friends (be especially suspicious if you know they’ll have to sleep on the couch).

Though you need to investigate these further, if a potential tenant displays any of the above red flags during the screening process, you should proceed with caution.

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