6 Mistakes That Make Good Landlords End Up With Bad Tenants

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

messBad tenants are bad news!

Renting to a person who refuses to pay their rent can cost a landlord thousands of dollars. A destructive tenant may end up damaging your property and racking up huge repair bills. Other nightmare renters can fight eviction, and the worst case is a renter who harms other tenants or even you!

A landlord’s lackadaisical approach to tenant selection can end up biting him in the end. Here are 6 common mistakes that cause good landlords to end up with bad tenants:

#1: Failing to run proper tenant screening checks. This error can cause you to miss big red flags that would steer you away from certain rental applicants. A tenant criminal background check can show you the applicant’s potential for being dangerous or destructive. A tenant screening credit check could alert you to a person’s problems with huge debt, or overall financial instability. Eviction records can return evidence of a person’s past evictions. All of this information is important in determining whether or not you want this applicant as a renter. Foregoing tenant screening opens the door to bad tenants who would otherwise have been weeded out.

#2: Not taking the time to examine the tenant screening checks thoroughly. Simply ordering the proper tenant screening background checks is not enough. A smart landlord must review them closely, and take note of any information that could point to an applicant who would not pay his bills, be destructive, or dangerous. Look for bad money management, overwhelming debt, and recent criminal convictions. If any of these are present, ask questions before you rent to the person.

#3: Not taking quick action. Giving bad tenants a chance to turn it around when you should be beginning eviction procedures is a costly mistake. Currently 35% of U.S. households are renting. The quicker you can get a bad tenant out, the faster you can find a good tenant to move in. Giving the tenant ‘just one more chance’ or allowing them to skip paying the full amount of rent only delays the inevitable. This mistake will stick you with a rental property that isn’t making you (and may even be costing you) money.

Bottom line, if the tenant isn’t following the lease agreement, begin the eviction process.

#4: Skipping the process of verifying their employment.This may be a shocker, but people lie. That is why landlords must verify ALL employment. Not doing so puts you in the tenuous position of renting to an applicant who does not make enough money to pay the rent, or is unemployed altogether. While verifying employment will not guarantee the person will pay his rent, it will go along way to ensure it.

#5: Being lenient on enforcing the lease. Allowing a little leeway here and there may seem like the nice thing to do, but it makes you look like you are not sticking to your guns. Tenants will begin to expect this behavior, and take advantage. The lease agreement was created for a reason! Avoid the temptation of bending the rules, even every now and then.

#6: Having ‘ants in your pants’. Sure, every landlord dreads the thoughts of a property sitting empty. Better, however, to take an extra month to wait for a solid tenant than to hurry and end up renting to someone who trashes the place or won’t pay their bills. Don’t jump on the first applicant walking through the door, or rush your due diligence. Your bank account-and your blood pressure- will thank you for avoiding the headaches down the road that a rash decision can cause.

While landlords are faced with the responsibility of keeping their properties rented, they also need to remember to take their time, screen the applicants thoroughly, and reach a solid decision. Once the renter is in place, the lease needs to be enforced, and the landlord needs to be fair but firm. These practices will minimize the risk of a good landlord ending up with a bad tenant.

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At the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), our mission is to serve the interests of landlords, real estate brokers, property managers, real estate owners and apartment building owners nationally.  Visit www.AAOA.com for more information about membership details!