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How to Spot a Difficult Tenant


How to Spot a Difficult Tenant

Being a landlord can be a wonderful and rewarding job. However, if you have even one difficult tenant, that job can become stressful very quickly. There are several warning signs to look for so that you can spot a difficult tenant before ever allowing them to rent from you. Below is a brief overview of traits to look for when speaking with prospective tenants. These items should help you spot potentially difficult tenants in advance.

Harsh Attitude

Belligerent tenants are one of the most disruptive, and potentially dangerous, types to have. If you are speaking with a potential tenant who is rude, demanding, interrupts you when you speak, is overly demonstrative, or exhibits other similar signs, you may want to avoid leasing to that person. Down the line, this type of person could be the type to start an argument over every minor inconvenience or perceived dissatisfaction.


Sometimes, you can’t really tell if someone is going to be the noisy type that throws loud parties and disrupts the neighbors. Additionally, you can’t legally or reliably judge someone based on appearance alone. However, you might want to discuss any noise policy you have with every potential tenant, especially college-aged tenants, just to ensure that your tenants are aware. Having a noise clause in the contract will afford you more legal options down the road if noise becomes a problem with any tenant.

Financially Troubled

You can’t always tell if someone will avoid rent, pay late, or cause financial troubles. However, there are some warning signs that you should look for. If the potential tenant exhibits any of the following behaviors or characteristics during the initial interview or meeting, you might have reason to be concerned about future financial issues.

  • is wishy-washy about the range of rent they can afford
  • doesn’t have a checking account
  • is hesitant about having to pay anything up front
  • doesn’t want to offer a driver’s license for verification purposes

There are other signs to look for, as well, but if any of these are present, you might want to proceed with caution. Of course, not everyone who exhibits these traits is going to be financially troubled and avoid rent or pay late. However, most people who know what they can afford and are honestly seeking a reliable place to live will have no trouble complying with standard verification procedures.

Other Traits to Look For

There are some other traits you should look for, as well, when interviewing and conducting initial meetings with potential tenants. These traits might be signs that a tenant may become difficult in the future.

  • avoids commitment of any kind
  • is hesitant to provide basic personal information, like their last name
  • is evasive and won’t answer basic questions
  • inconsistent credit references
  • using family for credit references

Always run a background check to make sure that the person you are speaking with is who they say they are. If a potential tenant will not submit to a background test, that is a big red flag. Most people would be glad to know that their landlord is checking the backgrounds of those who will be living near them in the same complex. If this request gives someone pause or they refuse to comply, that is a warning sign.

Overall, most tenants will not cause you any trouble. However, you must be prepared to handle difficult tenants, and knowing what to look for before ever signing that lease can be your best bet in mitigating issues caused by leasing to difficult people.

Questions? Comments? Contact DIY Property Manager!

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