Understanding how to avoid terrible tenants can feel a bit randomized at times. As a property manager, it falls on your shoulders to thoroughly differentiate the good renters from the bad. A bad tenant can lead to many headaches and, in worst-case scenarios, legal battles, and corrupted property portfolios. In our tenant screening services we’ve collected dozens of tricks and tips to pick the right tenants for your properties. We’ve condensed some of the best into a guide so you can steer clear of bad tenants.

Ad Placement

Terrible tenants or those with a history of rental abuse tend to search for ads that appear less professional in an effort to find a place that will put up with poor behavior. This isn’t a scare tactic to make you second guess your online and print posts. Instead, it is a reminder to use proper language and information when creating an ad in order to discourage poor tenants from having interest and invite good tenants to stay. 

Ensure all of your ads appear clear and professional. Use property management industry language and high-end property details, high-quality photos and even a management logo to signal your professionalism as a property manager.

It is best to err on the side of caution and not mention if your property has been vacant for extended periods of time. Additionally, advertising numerous price reductions or stating you’re looking for a tenant ASAP is also not recommended. Even if such information is true, making such information public is essentially inviting bad tenants from all over. Serious and responsible renters respond to serious and responsible advertisements. The opposite is also true as well.

Importance of the First Showing

There are so many ways to use the first showing to learn about prospective tenants. Seasoned property managers can brainstorm many items to look out for when showing a space to someone for the first time:

Timeliness: First impressions mean a lot, and showing up late to a showing is about as bad a first impression as someone can leave. While this doesn’t make them a bad person, it does tarnish their impression as a responsible and proactive candidate you want to rent to.

Demeanor: Notice whether or not the prospective tenant is engaged in the showing. Distinguish whether they are genuinely excited about the property or just there against their will. A person’s demeanor can say a lot about them if the signs are strong enough.

Shoes on/off: An old industry trick, many managers assess the conscientiousness of renters by if they remove their shoes or not after entering the room. This doesn’t mean that anyone who doesn’t take their shoes off is someone you should be concerned about, it is just another way to gauge the person.

Reactions when discussing rules of lease qualifications: How they react when you review lease rules and requirements is one of the best ways to figure out what type of folks you are dealing with. Expect casualness when discussing these terms, and take note of any aggravation and/or hostility that may appear if the terms don’t excite your prospects. You don’t need to settle for those who are the latter.

Move-In Reports

Move-in reports are a great tool to further solidify trust with your tenants. Initially, you’ll want to conduct a private report immediately after the previous tenant has moved out and prior to new tenants moving in. Then, have the new tenant conduct their own report as early as possible after they settle in. Review the two reports together for any apparent discrepancies.

This achieves a few things. Firstly, if the tenant balks at having to review the reports side-by-side, this could be an indication they may be difficult throughout the duration of their stay. It also provides a binding agreement that can be circled back to later on in the case of a dispute. Lastly, it gives you even more time to assess their character, grow familiar with their behavior and see if they have the ability to act responsibly and professionally themselves. Periodic inspections either through property managers or the tenants themselves are another great way to check in on your tenants behavior. All of which contributes towards avoiding bad tenants all together.