What To Look For In A Tenant

Putting a home up for rent could be an avenue to easy, endless income or arduous, unceasing headaches. Much of your fate as a landlord will depend on your ability to select the right tenants. Some landlords get greedy or frustrated with a tough market and accept the first potential renter they come across, but those who know what they’re doing make careful choices.

Smart On Money lists qualities that the best tenants share:

* They’re not related to you. Renting to friends and family can quickly turn into putting friends and family up for free. It’s tougher to evict people you know you’ll have to sit next to at Thanksgiving.

* Their credit checks out. A glance at a credit report will show you someone’s history of fiscal responsibility. If he doesn’t mind making the electric company wait for its payments, he could be slow with your rent.

* They can afford a deposit. The ability to put money up in advance shows a commitment to the home, as well as the financial viability needed to make rent during tough times. Those who move in without making a deposit have nothing to lose.

How To Choose Good Tenants For Your Rental Property [Smart On Money]

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  1. Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

    * Hard of hearing and willing to ignore that smell.

  2. sufreak says:

    As a first time renter, I went through all the books, wrote my own lease, etc. But in the end, I went to my realtor who I have worked with in the past and trusted. It cost me 1 months rent, but his experience was invaluable. We got great tenants, no frustration, and a lot of education that wasn’t in books.

    Going forward, I may go at it solo, but for a first time landlord, using a realtor was great. Plus, a renter who uses a realtor may be more reputable too.
    YMMV

    • sufreak says:

      First time landlord**

    • neilb says:

      Another benefit: You do not have to deal with liabilities related to finding the right person. Getting one “they denied me because of my X status” will cost more than a month’s rent…not to mention that you would have to figure out and pay for the credit check.
      I thought a friend who did this was nuts, but I see the wisdom in it now!
      By the way, I am a renter who found his house through a realtor and I like the system too (and I now have that realtor as my own for future housing purchases–everyone wins).

      • RandomHookup says:

        But it can also work the other way…the realtor sends on marginally qualified applicants because they are concerned about being hit with claims of discrimination.

        I rent out half of my 2 family house and I’m exempt technically from discrimination charges, though I don’t think I would ever want to play with that fire.

        • Slaughterhouse5 says:

          I think you’re giving realtors way too much credit. Quite simply, they are salesmen who will not try to protect a client beyond what is legally required or specifically requested. The client is whomever is paying the salesman. In the NY metro area, it is exclusively the propective tenant. The salesman provides absolutely zero value other than providing a boilerplate lease available from Staples and maybe running a credit check (which the tenant pays for) if asked to do so.

          Remember, getting a real estate license is typically done by someone who wishes to be a commisioned salesman.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I didn’t realize it was even possible to use a realtor for rental properties.

    • Rachacha says:

      As a first time landlord myself, I did the same thing. My realtor also serves as my property manager as he lives less than 1 mile away from the rental, while it would regularly take me over an hour to get to the rental. This is convenient when I receive a complaint about something my tenant is doing, I can simply send a quick e-mail and have him check out the situation and initiate corrective action on my behalf. My realtor is responsible for collecting the rent, and knocking on the door if the rent is late. My realtor is also responsible for meeting maintenance people in to make repairs if any repairs are needed, and he will also conduct periodic inspections of the property to ensure that it is being properly maintained. It costs me 10% of the monthly rental, but so far (4 months in) it has been 100% stress free.

  3. Diabolos needs more socks says:

    I prefer my Tennants to be Doctors.

  4. gaya2081 says:

    I live in a duplex and the apartment above mine became available about 1 year ago. My landlord spent 5 months finding the right person. I know he turned down a bunch of people. The guy he ended up with doesn’t help with any yard work and I am pretty sure hasn’t paid his rent several time (the have you see him lately email from the landlord). Other than that he is a good person to live below…he isn’t home much.

  5. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    As a former landlord and knowing several landlords…

    1) Don’t rent to anyone is eager to pay cash upfront for several months of rent.
    2) No Section 8.
    3) Make it clear that you will work with the police and drug task force if neighbors complain.

    We have a small apartment above our garage that’s currently being used for storage. We could definitely use the extra $300/month of income but we’re incredibly wary to renting it after our last experience.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      I’m trying to rent out a room in my home. I can’t find anyone willing to pay a security deposit + first months rent (if they can only afford a room, probably money is too tight – understandable).

      But seriously, if I could find someone willing, why is paying cash upfront bad?

      • sufreak says:

        Its often a sign of someone too eager. Why would someone give you cash up front? it shows they have immediate income, but not necessarily a long term income. Unfortunately, that kind of situation doesn’t always have a happy ending. If things get bad, the copper piping looks like an easy solution.

        • SkokieGuy says:

          Okay, thanks.

        • maxhobbs says:

          Watch Pacific Heights:
          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100318/

        • coffee100 says:

          > it shows they have immediate income, but not necessarily a long term income.

          As you know, you need both to rent a crappy, clapboard shack apartment lit by a single lightbulb dangling from the staircase railing.at $7 a square foot. Spotless credit, frosty blocks of cash and at least a 7-figure lottery win (for that tasty, tasty 20-year annuity) and then you might qualify. Otherwise, get lost.

          Just another example of America’s new motto: **** the poor. Great attitude too, considering fully one half of Americans are now either below the poverty line or officially classified as “low income.”

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        In my city, it’s almost always a sign of drug dealing. Paying upfront is essentially asking for tacit approval of the dealing, with the assumption that if the tenant needs to bail, the landlord can keep the remainder of the rent money. It also means that the landlord now owes one to the tenant, which can become tricky if/when police get involved.

        There are a few other reasons but paying cash is a huge red flat. Though, it’s probably less of an issue where drugs and crime aren’t nearly as prevalent.

        • tinyninja says:

          What? You are way, way, paranoid. I’ve done this a couple of times–the first time was when I moved out on my own and had no rental history, the second time was when I got divorced and moved out on my own *again* and had lost my rental history due to owning. I’ve also had to put down more upfront because my slimy ex-husband allowed the house to go into foreclosure before he filed divorce papers– (someone bought it before proceedings started but it was still on my record for seven years).

          Now I have no rental history again because I’m living with my boyfriend and the landlord is cool with me not being on the lease. I plan to do the cash upfront thing again. And the landlord that gets me is one lucky sumbitch, as I’m very quiet, rarely have anyone over, and leave the place better than I left it.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            Where do you live? Please look at my last sentence.

            In my city, cash up front is a massive red flag, especially in my neighborhood.

          • Slaughterhouse5 says:

            That is not paranoid at all. By accepting cash up front, you’re opening yourself up in several ways:

            1. If I accept 12 months rent up front, I cannot evict within that time period.
            2. Cash income is almost always associated with illegal income. This may range from drug dealing to simple tax evasion.
            3. People who deal on a purely cash basis usually have some compelling reason to do so. This is a red flag in that it leaves the landlord with less leverage over someone who has little to lose from a reputational standpoint.
            4. Most people, given their ability to continue paying rent each month would prefer not to hand over months worth of rent up front. The willingness to do so absent other compelling factors is a major red flag.

            • sponica says:

              when I was a grad student and got my student loan checks in September and January, I would prepay my rent for a few months…granted I paid in check and not cash, but my landlord probably would not have cared had I prepaid in cash. He’d rather deal with me prepaying than my deadbeat roommate at the time who never paid his share of the rent (thankfully we had independent agreements with the landlord so I was never on the hook for his bills)

        • shepd says:

          Depends. I had my own business, so my pay was in cash, since it was easier to just take the money from the till (At the time it was just me and the business partner, so accounting was pretty rudimentary anyways) than it was to bring the money from the till to the bank and then take the money out of the bank 2 days later (or write a cheque at that point).

          Of course, the landlord wouldn’t accept cash, so I ended up paying with Money Orders. Feh, whatever works.

          • Tangurena says:

            My ex used to work for an apartment management office. A lot of the apt managers they were hiring were pretty sleazy and more than a few skipped out with a wad of cash, one step ahead of the law. The company owned several hundred apartment complexes nationwide and got clobbered by the tax reform act of 1986 (that’s the one that changed mortgage interest deduction to pretty much only the first property from “as many as you have”). It took about 10 years for them to finally die from bankruptcy and they cut a few too many corners on the way down including background checks on their managers.

      • ElleAnn says:

        When I was looking for a roommate and my name was the only one on the lease, I had decent luck after I added some basic furniture to the room (basically just a bed and a desk). People who are looking for a room often don’t have any furniture and don’t want the hassle of buying and moving furniture. I think that at first the issue of the room being unfurnished was more of a deterrent to potential roommates than the deposit and 1st month’s rent. It helps that I lived somewhere that their half of the rent was only about $315 and I never had an issue with someone I’d actually be willing to live with not being able to pay that plus the first month (pro-rated based upon what day they moved in).

      • dogbowl says:

        I’ve learned the “no cash from tenants” the hard way.

        Usually it means they don’t have regular income, don’t have a checking account or both. And then typically if someone doesn’t have a checking account – its because they are hiding from something…

        and yes, I can generalize all I want because I’m the one in the end stuck paying all bills and repairing all the damage. Nothing will turn you against humanity quicker than being a landlord.

      • dilbert69 says:

        Because people who have a lot of cash but are still looking to rent are probably shady. If I have six months’ rent, I’d probably use it to buy a place, particularly with the low prices that prevail in much of the country at this time.

      • Tangurena says:

        I was unemployed when I applied to rent at the apartment that I’m currently living at. They said that since my credit was so bad, they wanted 6 months rent up front – this was their way of saying “get lost”. I had the money, and needed a place to live, so I paid them. I’ve been here for years.

    • castlecraver says:

      In some states (I’m assuming, as I know it’s the case in DC), denying someone solely because they have a Sec 8 voucher can be illegal. Not that there aren’t a million ways to get around that as a landlord, but yeah.. just another symptom of how it’s basically a crime to be poor in this country.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I think there are a few exceptions but it’s pretty much the norm for landlords to not accept Section 8. It’s fairly common for landlords to say “No Section 8″ on rental ads, just like home sellers to say “No VA Loans” on their listing. It’s tough to force someone to participate in a program with so many strings attached.

        If HUD wants more landlords to participate in the program, they need to provide at least some incentive to do so.

        • sponica says:

          there are legitimate reasons to put no VA loans….the condos in my neighborhood don’t meet the legal requirements for VA loans (because the association leases the land).

          • Velvet Jones says:

            I never knew about VA loans until I sold my last house. It ended up costing me a extra $500 at closing because I was forced to pay a fee that is normally paid by the buyer. Had I known that up front I would have negotiated it in to the price. Next time I sell a house I am definitely going be on the look out for this.

      • Slaughterhouse5 says:

        Overlooking the fact that DC is not a state, the answer is not so simple. On a federal level, a propective tenant’s source of income is not protected, as long as this method of discrimination is equally and fairly applied. Unless otherwise specifically prohibited by what is usually local law, it is legal to say “no section 8″. While this seems like screwing the poor, one must consider the landlord’s point of view:

        Evicting a Section 8 tenant due to non payment, damage or other legitamte reason is laborious and requires a court order. While the landlord will continue to receive voucher payments, he or she may not receive the tenant share nor utilities or compensation for damages. Another factor is that not all Section 8 tenants are created equal. Those who qualify are very often not the only occupants. Friends, relatives and gang members often come with the territory, especially considering that Section 8 housing tends to cluster in neighborhoods.

        That being said, there are other ways to disqualify tenants based on other factors than Section 8 income. These could include criminal background checks, credits checks, rental and eviction history, etc.

        While there are some very good yet poor tenants receiving Section 8, there are probably more who most of us would not want to have as neighbors.

  6. Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

    Don’t you just go to a fortune teller and do what they say, and use it as an excuse to discriminate by race and/or gender. Isn’t that what all good landlords do?

    (Yes, this actually happens)

  7. Onesnap says:

    I rent out my lake house on a weekly basis. 20% of each week goes to an agency. They handle all the paperwork, cleaning, and deposits. Best 20% ever because I don’t have to drive 4 hours round trip to manage the property. I feel bad for anyone that is a landlord without a property manager. Too much of a headache.

    • sufreak says:

      I’ve had 1 email in my few months of being a landlord. it was a question of turning on the heat. 10-20%/month for that? No thanks.

      • Onesnap says:

        Please see above:

        1. I rent it out on a weekly basis.
        2. It’s 4 hours round trip. Gas, tolls, collecting $, having to give up every single weekend…
        3. 20% is a fee that is worth it. The hot water heater flooded the basement. The property agent was there to deal with it, got a plumber, got the renters up and running with hot water the next day, and earned every penny of that 20%
        4. It’s a business. An investment. I think everyone that reads/responds to this website understands that there are necessary costs to running a business.
        5. The crass commenters can shove it. We work our asses off in my house.

        • sufreak says:

          While I agree with your needs, I don’t think you should feel bad for anyone not having a property manager. It would be a 3-4 hour round trip for me to handle stuff, but the place is in good shape, so its really not needed.

          And my comment wasn’t meant to be snide.

          • DariusC says:

            If you disagree with the poster, you are snide. I can feel an air of superiority with this lady, one of those “my husband will (insert threat to be carried out by husband later when he finds out what his wife dragged him in to)” kind of girls…

            • sufreak says:

              HA!

              Well, then I’ll get my dad to go after her/his dad. And then we’ll call the principal. Or something like that.

              • Onesnap says:

                My husband’s Dad is dead. Why are you assuming I’m a girl? Gay marriage in MA is legal so I could be a guy. A guy with a flower icon.

            • Onesnap says:

              First of all I get defensive about this topic because I hear about it all of the time.

              We work hard in my house, just like many of you work very hard each week.

              I’m not an Internet bully.

          • Onesnap says:

            ok. Thanks for clarification. It came across as snide.

          • Onesnap says:

            4 hours/round trip on a weekly basis does not make sense for me.

            I would have 2 hours to get there (and hope there was no traffic).

            I’d have to clean, inspect the house, and collect $ and contracts from the next renter. Too little hours in the day to get all that done.

            So…the 20% gets paid with gritted teeth. In the case of the water heater blowing earlier this year that would have been a nightmare without the agent (and her 20%)

        • JennQPublic says:

          You’re the only one I see being crass and snarky. If you find that others are regularly approaching you that way, perhaps you should re-examine your own tone.

      • Onesnap says:

        Oh. And we get $1400/week rent. So to anyone on here that has snide thoughts or comments…again…you can suck it.

        • Jules Noctambule says:

          Goodness, aren’t you a friendly one.

        • theduckay says:

          Why are you so defensive to anyone who disagrees with you? Jeez its the internet…don’t be sensitive about the comments.

          • Onesnap says:

            Because I hear it all of the time. People are pretty nasty in this economy to those of us that get creative about how to earn extra $ (legally).

            I hear it all of the time, and I posted useful advice on here and got snarky comments.

            I am a nice person actually. Not trying to attack readers of this blog…I’m just sick and tired of people being so judgmental because I decided to run a vacation rental with my hard-earned cash. It’s not easy, and it’s not fun…but it gives affordable vacations to some really great renters.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        Wait until rent starts being late or something needs to be fixed. Not having to deal with that is worth the 10%-20%

        • sufreak says:

          If you do a good job with tenant selection, late rent shouldn’t be an issue. And if something breaks, its not worth me to have to pay $300+ a month for someone to call a plumber.

          Oh, and I get 1700/month + utilities rent. So therefore, I’m right. (Since others feel the need to be childish).

    • BettyCrocker says:

      Oh the woes of having property. Life must be so hard for you. ;)

      • Onesnap says:

        Actually the rudeness is un-called for. My husband and I work full-time and run a side business. So…you can stuff your sorries in a sack mister.

        • BigPapaCherry says:

          That winking smilie face? I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that s/he’s joking. Not everyone here’s out to get you. Good for you for having worked hard enough to have a vacation property. Not every landlord has decided that a management company makes sense for them, and if you offer your opinion, you’re inviting them to offer theirs. I don’t think the comments were meant to be attacks, and if they were.. well, then don’t feed the trolls. :-D

        • LanMan04 says:

          WOOSH

    • Rachacha says:

      Just out of curiosity, is this property a beach/resort property? If not, why did you choose to rent it out on a weekly basis as opposed to a more normal yearly lease? I assume that the property is firnished. If it is not a beach/resort property, who are your clients? Businesses? or individuals?

      As a fellow landlord I am curious and wondering if I could double or triple my income by going to a weekly rental.

  8. dulcinea47 says:

    I really wish people would look at the history of paying rent instead of overall credit history, or at least in addition to it. I used to have terrible credit history due to credit cards. But if anyone had asked my previous landlords, they’d know that I paid my rent on time, ALWAYS. I can live with creditors calling me but I really don’t want to be homeless- rent is always first priority. But since no one takes that into consideration I lived in some crapholes that were the only places that didn’t check credit.

    • sufreak says:

      Depends how many landlords you can list as a reference. Or lie about.
      If its the current landlord, they’ll be more than happy to lie about you to get you out of their hair.

      • dulcinea47 says:

        I would have been willing to provide copies of cashed checks, if that’s what it took.

        • sufreak says:

          While there are always good eggs with a bad rap, it comes down to general history. Not every lion will eat you, but most will, given the chance. (bad analogy, my apologies)

          Its not personal, and it does suck.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          One reason why they look at general history, income, etc. is that people will prioritize bills based on the consequences of not paying. In many instances, it can take 3-6 months to be evicted while there are much more immediate consequences to not paying car insurance, gas, or electric bills.

      • checkitnice says:

        Um, this. When I was a landlord, I had several tenants come with glowing references from their current landlord. Total BS, as I then looked at their credit report and saw that said landlord had taken one woman to court FIVE times over unpaid rent. But the form he sent to me said “A+ tenant! Hate to see her go!”

        I recommend getting at least two references, and checking them against the credit reports.

    • sufreak says:

      Oh, and water bills can go in the landlords name. So if the tenant doesn’t pay, the landlord is still on the hook.

    • David Doe says:

      We run two fairly large mid range apartment complexes we do credit and criminal history checks and a rental history check.

      The credit check is actually not for checking your credit its to see if you have massive unpaid household debts to utilities or other rental properties. Collections from other complexes and landlords show up on credit history.

      I’ve spoken with other complexes they don’t care about credit score either, its all about the rental history and if you have evictions. It is probably different for the high end places though.

    • BrightShopperGettingBrighter says:

      My tenant’s boyfriend has a rough credit history from the last few years. He was forthcoming about it and provided multiple references. “Stand up guy, recession, yada yada yada” according to his references. However, I spent two hours hunting down former bosses, etc that he didn’t refer to me in order to get a complete story. I liked him and his girlfriend, so put in a lot of extra effort. It’s unusual to spend the effort when another tenant is right behind them.

      .

    • Rachacha says:

      We did that with our current renter. Our realtor/property manager recommended that we shoot for someone with a good cretit history (he threw out a number that I forgot) to minimize our risk. One potential tenant came in with a credit score below that, however he provided a reasonable explanation for the bad credit score (ex wife liked to spend, but did not like to pay the bills), and we asked his current landlord about his rent payment history. He had a good job that was relatively stable and was able to front the money for the first month plus security deposit.. We looked at the risk, and decided that his situation that gave him the bad credit was behind him and his rental history was great so we accepted the application. So far he has been a great tenant.

  9. DariusC says:

    Disagree with #1 and #3. #1. I don’t have to sit next to anyone during Thanksgiving, I pay my own bills and If I don’t want someone in my house I don’t have to have them. Same for visiting family. #3 is also wrong because I recently moved after being unemployed and barely scraping by. I accepted a nice paying job, but still couldn’t get anyone to loan money for moving expenses or waive the deposit (even for a week until my first paycheck). This caused me to seek a loan from the first national bank of mom/dad. I’m doing fine now, but I am holding it against the company and bank. The company lost a customer come lease-end and the bank is on thin ice (only because their credit card is one of my oldest).

  10. TasteyCat says:

    On the opposite side of the coin, there’s such a thing as too cautious. I’ve seen houses sit empty for a year because the landlord was just too picky.

    Money up front is a reasonable request. First month’s, last month’s, and an additional month for security deposit is pushing it, though.

    Most people don’t even understand their own credit score, let alone someone else’s. You can buy a house with a 620, which is far from good, but that same score could be prohibitive for renting in some cases. If you’re evaluating credit as a landlord, you should be looking at more than just a number. How many of the things on the report are stupid little things like $75 for Comcast or a bunch of small medical expenses (which should not be able to effect a person’s credit in the first place)? How old are the delinquencies? Was the person struggling in March, or did they have a bad run 5 years ago? Is the person carrying large credit card balances (relative to their total credit limit), or do they otherwise have obligations such as loans that may be a concern? Ask some questions and see how comfortable you are with the answers.

    Also, you can’t tell how quickly someone pays their bills by looking at their credit report. Just how quickly they pay their credit cards and how high their utilization is. I pay my bills in 0 days. You send me an e-mail; I login to your website and make a payment that day. Wouldn’t know it by my credit report, though. If somebody pays their bills at 30 or 60 days, you wouldn’t know that either. If it ends up on a credit report, it’s probably gone through service disconnection and then another month or two after that.

    • gaya2081 says:

      My current Landlord required first, last, + 1 months for deposit. We make sure we have enough to move at all times just in case. For a place with 1,000/month rent, you bet the landlord wants to cover themselves in case we ended up being bad renters

    • maxhobbs says:

      Happened here with retail. Friend had just a small craft store, she had rented for 4 years, never missed payment. Strip mall owner decided he wanted TRIPLE the rent, she and several others left. It is now 4 years later and those spots are still vacant.

  11. Bagumpity says:

    We let a friend who was going through a nasty divorce stay at our place when we moved. She kept it in good condition while it was being sold, and we got to help someone who really needed it. True, it could have turned out badly, but we like to think that we got some positive karma out of the deal.

    • Onesnap says:

      Good plan. :)

    • TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

      my wife and I were I the middle of selling our first home after moving for my job. We had friends who had moved to Denver for school and things worked out badly. They wanted to come back home where they knew they had work waiting. They were flat broke and we took our home off the market to let them live there until they were back on their feet. They borrowed the money for a rental truck from another friend and moved back.after two months they had paid back the other friend (who was not in as good a position as we were) and then they started paying rent.

      That was 8 years ago, and they are th best tennants to this day!!

  12. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    I think one thing that really impressed our current landlord was that when he mentioned the deposit, I was able to write a check for it then-and-there with absolute confidence that it was good. No qualms, no negotiating with my housemates, just “Okay, spell your name for me…”

  13. Straspey says:

    Coming from New York City, where the Landlord/Tenant regulations are very specific and, for the most part, strictly enforced – I can tell you that it’s *VERY* important that you learn about the rules and regulations pertaining to your own geographical location – and that goes for both landlords and would-be tenants.

    For instance, here in NY City, landlords are not allowed to charge a penalty fee to a tenant who is late with their monthly rental payment.

    Even if you put a rider in the lease, which specifically allows for that provision, and even if the tenant signs the lease with that rider attached, it will be deemed to be null and void in Housing Court here and the judge will immediately invalidate it.

    Also, here in NY City, many landlords use a broker to find their tenants. The broker does all the vetting, regarding background and credit checks, proof of employment, pay stubs, etc. The broker’s fee- usually the equivalent of one month’s rent – is paid by the tenant most of the time. In order to receive the key to the apartment, the prospective tenant will have to be in a position to pay three month’s rent down – The first month’s rent, plus one month’s security, plus another month’s equivalent to the broker. Occasionally a landlord may ask for two month’s security, or two month’s rent up front, which is within his legal rights.

    • Onesnap says:

      Agreed.

      I’ve also seen landlords really end up in quite a pickle due to bad tenants. They now check credit after a few con-artist style tenants wrecked their place and had to get moved out (physically) by the court system.

      If you own property it is in your best interest (in this economy) to pay the extra $ and get yourself a professional service to handle the legal part of being a landlord. You don’t want to have to go afterwards with trash bags and spend an entire day (with a team of people) cleaning and re-furbing a place people trashed after screwing you out of several month’s rent.

      In the long run you end up paying a fee (or in your NY example, the renter pays the fee) and it’s almost like an insurance policy that the nightmare that landed on my friend’s place will not land on you (as the landlord)

  14. central_ny_dude says:

    How about interviewing their previous neighbors? Everything may look good on paper, but when it comes to their behaviors, a good credit score doesn’t always mean they don’t royally piss off their neighbors. We have a house next door, that is a revolving door of crazy tenants. Last set was evicted by the cops because they couldn’t keep themselves from dealing, keeping illegal weapons, threatening us, other people, etc. The newest tenants are up shouting, screaming at each other, let their kids play in the street after dark, let their dogs run loose, and park in ways that block us in or out. High credit score =/= perfect tenants. My credit score isn’t the best, but I’m a considerate tenant, and past neighbors would attest to that. But, I suppose that someone with a higher credit score, that pays for everything in the cash he gets from dealing makes for a much better tenant. And yeah, the first, last, and one month security up front is pretty harsh. Again, ability to pay a lot of money =/= good tenant.

  15. TheBear says:

    All three of these are complete Bullshit. After getting rid of 10 years of owing 2 painful rental houses here’s what I figured out:

    1) Rent to family or friends – If your parents or your friends parents live in the same town or very near and are of good character I would definitely rent to a friend or family member. I did for 4 years and every time the nephew got a few days late he knew I would rat him out to his parents. Always resulted in a prompt rent payment and the property was kept up well.

    2) Credit check is useless – I kicked out 4 bad renters over the years with good/great credit. They trashed the house, had the police over for boyfriend/girlfriend fights and parties. I remember they interviewed well so why were they so bad? Even complete loser douche-bags can pay their bills on time, dress nice and answer all the questions correctly before they sign the lease. Once you figure them out 4 months in, with a few threats of eviction they would just leave. They know how to keep their credit good by not getting caught in an eviction process.

    3) Deposit – The deposit only made me feel better about myself. I found that the people essentially begging to let them pay an extra $100 a month to cut the initial deposit in half – because their credit sucked or had been out of work or had a nasty divorce. I also respected them more if they were honest and up front that their credit was bad. Most would actually admit that they were bad about paying credit cards, car payments and/or the utilities on time but understood the most important thing was to have a roof over their head. I wasn’t oblivious to the fact that maybe they didn’t know how to budget or over spent – living paycheck to paycheck but at least I knew what to expect from them: usually about 1 or 2 weeks late on rent 2 or 3 months in a row, then they would get caught up for several months, then repeat. Yard was always mowed, house was always clean, no cops, no complaints from the neighbors. Grateful because I didn’t rake them over the coals when they were late. Usually a woeful “I’m sorry I’m late but the baby went to the doctor or something” call..

  16. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Phil seems to be really interested in renting out property…

  17. ShreeThunderbird says:

    As a landlord for 15 years I believe the essential factor in finding good tenants is to get references. The best reference is a previous landlord. Not the landlord the person is moving from at the moment. Get the reference from the landlord before the current one. The current landlord might be trying to get rid of the tenant and might give a glowing reference. The prior landlord has no stake in lying. Also get credit references and personal references. You can reject a potential renter simply because you do not like them. Any other reason opens you up to possible repercussions

    • dilbert69 says:

      Also, the person may not have given notice yet and would not like their current landlord to know they’re planning to move until they’ve secured a new place. Same as when looking for a new job – don’t let them contact your current employer.

    • OMG_BECKY says:

      What’s to stop someone from listing one of their friends as their prior landlord? References are easily faked.

  18. maxhobbs says:

    Before anyone ever becomes a landlord I suggest you watch the Michael Keaton movie “Pacific Heights”.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100318/

  19. Jack Doe says:

    While you shouldn’t descriminate, renting to somebody in the Armed Forces makes some sense. You know what they make, you know when they get paid, and they will do their best to stay ahead of rents and issues, because you can always call their first shirt if they get too far behind.

  20. Cantras says:

    I hate to start a new sort of can’t-get-a-job-without-experience/no-experience-because-can’t-get-a-job, BUT talking to their previous landlord would be a big thing in my book. Probably more telling than a credit report.

    Our neighbor is always a day late/dollar short on her rent. She got her carpets cleaned (in december) and wanted the landlord to pay, because the carpets allegedly were dirty when she moved in (in august). She painted part of the wall. She just has no idea what the rules are to a rental. If I were a potential landlord for her in the future, I’d want to know.

    (TFA does mention this and asking for proof of income/employment, as a possible alternative to the credit check.)

  21. Jane_Gage says:

    Don’t make your favorite tenant your de facto property manager. I had someone ask me my sexual orientation, and when I gave them my credit score, references for the last decade, and employment history, they said, “actually, what you watch on television is more important to me.”