Red Flags to Avoid: Spotting Problem Tenants Before They Move In

By Vista Holdings

Someone holding a red flag

Finding the right tenant for your commercial rental property is crucial to maintaining a healthy and profitable investment. Problem tenants can cause a myriad of issues, from property damage to late rent payments and even legal troubles. To safeguard your investment, it’s essential to recognize the red flags that may indicate a problematic tenant before they move in. 

In this blog, we’ll review key warning signs to watch out for during the application process, property showings, and communications.

Warning Signs in the Application

Screening tenant applications thoroughly is the first step in avoiding potential problems down the road. By closely examining an applicant's employment history, rental history, credit score, and any past evictions, you can gain valuable insights into their reliability and financial stability. Here are some key warning signs to watch for in the application process.

1. Inconsistent Employment History

An inconsistent employment history is one of the most telling signs of a potential problem tenant. If a prospective tenant has a history of frequently changing jobs or has significant gaps in employment, it may indicate instability. Stable employment is often correlated with the ability to pay rent on time. Thus, verifying the applicant’s employment history and current job status is extremely important.

2. Gaps in Rental History

A rental application with gaps in rental history should raise a red flag. If the applicant has periods where they were not renting, it’s essential to understand why. While there may be legitimate reasons, such as living with family, it could also indicate previous issues with landlords or evictions. Always ask for an explanation and verify their previous rental history with landlords.

3. Evictions

Past evictions are a major red flag when screening potential tenants. An eviction can indicate a severe breach of lease terms, such as non-payment of rent or causing significant property damage. Conducting a thorough background check to uncover any past evictions is crucial. Some applicants may try to hide this information, so be diligent in your research.

4. Low Credit Score

A low credit score can be an indicator of financial irresponsibility. While everyone can face financial challenges, a pattern of late payments, high debt, or collections can suggest the applicant struggles to pay rent on time. Consider setting a minimum credit score requirement for your tenants to help mitigate this risk.

A man looking frustrated at a phoneBehavioral Red Flags During Showings

The way prospective tenants behave during property showings can reveal a lot about how they will treat your property and interact with you as a landlord. Observing their respect for the property, interest in lease terms, and attitude toward property rules can help you identify potential issues early on. Here are some key behavioral red flags to watch for during showings.

1. Disrespectful Behavior Towards the Property

During property showings, pay close attention to how prospective tenants treat the property. If they show a lack of respect, such as by making negative comments, handling items roughly, or ignoring property rules, it may indicate how they will treat the property if they move in. Respectful and conscientious behavior during showings is a good sign of how they will maintain the property.

2. Lack of Interest in Lease Terms

A tenant who is genuinely interested in renting your property will ask questions about the lease terms, rules, and responsibilities. If an applicant seems disinterested or dismissive of these details, it could indicate a lack of commitment to adhering to the lease terms. A good tenant will want to understand their obligations and be interested in maintaining a positive landlord-tenant relationship.

3. Dismissiveness of Property Rules

If a prospective tenant exhibits dismissiveness towards rules during the showing, it strongly indicates they may not follow them once they move in. Rules are in place to protect both the property and the tenants, so it’s important to find tenants who respect and understand their importance. Take note of any adverse reactions to the rules during the showing.

Red Flags in Communication

Clear and timely communication is essential for a smooth landlord-tenant relationship. How prospective tenants communicate during the application process can reveal a lot about their reliability and professionalism. Here are some communication-related red flags to consider when evaluating potential tenants.

1. Frequent Late Replies

Effective communication is vital to a successful landlord-tenant relationship. If a prospective tenant frequently responds late to emails, texts, or phone calls, it may indicate a lack of reliability. Timely communication is essential for handling maintenance issues, rent payments, and other urgent matters.

2. Difficulty Reaching by Phone

It could be a red flag if you find it challenging to reach a prospective tenant by phone. Reliable tenants should be easily contactable, especially during the application process. Difficulty reaching them may indicate potential issues with communication in the future.

3. Unprofessional Communication Style

Professionalism in communication is a good indicator of how the tenant will interact with you and others. If an applicant uses inappropriate language, seems rude, or fails to provide requested information promptly, it’s best to consider other candidates. Clear and respectful communication is essential for a smooth tenancy.Someone holding out their hands with the words property management

Spot Red Flags Early With Professional Property Management

Spotting problem tenants before they move in is essential to protecting your investment and ensuring a positive rental experience. By paying attention to warning signs in the application, behavior during showings, and communication style, you can make more informed decisions about prospective tenants.

At Vista Holdings, we specialize in tenant screening and property management to help you avoid problem tenants and maintain the value of your investment. Our experienced team uses comprehensive screening processes to identify potential red flags and ensure you find reliable and responsible tenants.

If you’re looking to enhance your property management and find the best tenants, connect with us today. Our team at Vista Holdings is here to provide tailored strategies and solutions for all your commercial real estate needs.

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