Keeping your rental units occupied is a priority; however, not all tenants are good, so you want to choose wisely. Some are problematic: late with the rent, disruptive to neighbors, destructive with property, etc. Once bad tenants are in, they could be there a year unless you evict them; however, that takes weeks and could cost thousands of dollars.  It’s best to avoid these tenants altogether. But how to do that? While bad tenants may not carry a sign and physically wave a red flag, you can screen for red flags when you show the property. 

Property Showings

Property showings are your chance to meet and screen your potential tenants for tenant red flags. 

Showing times are limited, but they can be enough to pick up on potential tenant red flags so you can factor them into your decision. Remember to ask many questions! 

Read on to see what these tenant red flags look like.

Previous Issues with Landlords 

A big tenant red flag is problems with previous landlords. When you contact the previous landlord, ask if the tenants were on time with rent, if they were disruptive, etc. 

Doing this before the showing means you can ask about any issues to get the tenants’ side and make a fair decision. 

Other questions to consider at the showing to screen for tenant red flags are their expectations in a landlord, if they’ve had issues with landlords in the past, and their previous rental experiences. 

In a Hurry to Find a Place 

If potential tenants are in a hurry to rent, it can be a possible tenant red flag. If the prospective tenants are in a rush, ask about their reason(s) why. While it could be because of an eviction issue, which would be a tenant red flag, it may not be. There are legitimate reasons prospective tenants are in a hurry to rent, including: 

  • A sudden job change
  • Being new to the area
  • A landlord selling their previous home 

Asking allows you to decide whether it is a tenant red flag or just circumstances. 

Difficult to Coordinate With 

How easy is it to coordinate the showing with the prospective tenants? If they were difficult, there could be an understandable reason, such as a busy schedule. 

It could also signal a lack of organization or pure indifference. In turn, this could indicate that these prospective tenants may be difficult to coordinate with to collect rent or for maintenance calls. 

Arriving Late to the Showing 

While being late to the showing isn’t a reason to outright deny an application, it is another possible tenant red flag. There are plenty of reasons beyond people’s control (such as sudden traffic) that make them late. Ask about it. 

If they are late, did they notify you beforehand? From the beginning, good tenants advise their landlords of potential issues ahead of time and are respectful of your time and property. 

Number of People at the Showing 

How many people come?  If the prospective tenant brings extra people, ask if everyone there is applying or just tagging along. 

Direct your questions to those who are applying. Take the opportunity to remind everyone about visiting rules and the policies on who can live there. 

Potential Pet Issues 

Many renters have pets, so asking about pet behavioral issues is prudent. Also, ask if their dog has had behavior training and their plan for bathroom breaks and feeding if they work long hours. 

This inquiry will give you an idea of potential issues. 

Dissatisfaction with Property

Not everyone will necessarily love your property at the showing; nevertheless, pay attention to potential tenants’ comments. Ask questions about what they are seeking. Derogatory comments could be an indication of a lack of respect for the property. 

Weighing the Considerations

Remember, just because a potential tenant shows one or two tenant red flags doesn’t mean they will be a bad tenant. 

It’s important to ask for details so you can determine whether it is a red flag issue or just circumstance. However, if the tenant trips multiple red flags without plausible reasons, it may be prudent to screen them out. 

In general, the more questions you ask, the better chance you have of finding renters who will be the right fit for your property. 


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PayRent is on a mission to build a rent collection app that fosters a positive and productive relationship between renters and landlords. We focus less on transactions and more on the people behind them.

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