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How to Identify Red Flags from Tenant Applicants

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Tenant screening is essential for landlords and property managers to secure excellent and qualified tenants. Numerous implications like unpaid or defaulting rent, property destruction, and nasty evictions can happen if you don’t do these. However, you can avoid all these.

Screening tenants for rental properties enables landlords and property managers to position themselves for a successful rental relationship with their renters. This way, they can also point out potential red flags in prospective renters. 

Suppose you need help detecting red flags on an apartment rental application. Below is a list of behaviors that raise red flags and information to help you spot potentially problematic tenants during the application process.

How to Identify Red Flags from Tenant Applicants

Here are a few ways to identify these red flags in tenant applicants. By being aware of these red flags, you can steer clear of tenants who could ruin your experience as a landlord.  

  1. Get and record information about the tenant  

Your first line of defense against problematic tenants is the rental application. Give a potential tenant a rental application to complete when you meet them for the first time. The application should include name, current address, employment history, and photo ID. It would help if you also asked for a monthly income statement and a history of three to five rentals.

The first thing to look out for is an incomplete application, especially regarding income and employment history. Find out from the applicant why they omitted certain information by following up with them.

You must then verify the information on the rental application to ensure accuracy. You can do this with the proper papers, such as bank statements and pay stubs. Bay Property Management Group Northern Virginia can help with these background checks. 

  1. Do a credit and background check

If a potential tenant’s credit score contains a lot of late payments, the likelihood that they will forget to make a rent payment rises. Similar to payday loans, another high-risk debt indicates a tenant who is cash-strapped and in need of credit.

Before viewing the applicant’s credit record, you must first have their consent. You should see their refusal or reluctance to permit you as a warning sign. They might be concealing anything negative, like a past-due account that a creditor closed because of non-payment.

A general background check can turn up disturbing information about an applicant’s history in conjunction with a credit check. Always take these things seriously since they may harm you and your neighbors. If you are unsure about a tenant after the initial background checks, you can try to Uncover the truth with Bond Rees, a private detective agency, or another similar service. Such an action can bring guarantees and peace of mind about your tenants and ensure safety of your property. 

  1. Ensure Adequate Processing 

It’s essential to take your time when renting a house to ensure everything goes correctly and you make the appropriate choices. In addition, it’s crucial to conduct thorough due diligence, and this goes for tenants as well.

If a tenant asks to move into your apartment immediately, you should be wary of their haste. It may be a sign of turmoil, a lack of forethought and preparation, or possibly something worse. Unsurprisingly, this behavior is a significant red flag if you are searching for a reliable and ethical tenant.

Similarly, if a candidate moves around a lot, they might not make an excellent long-term tenant. But, of course, they might have good and even pressing reasons for moving. So it would help if you didn’t rule them out solely on this single red flag. Again, setting things in perspective is crucial. However, it implies that you should be alert for further warning signs.

  1. Use your intuition

As a landlord, you may learn a lot about your tenants by interacting with them in person, online, or over the phone. For example, imagine a potential tenant shows up late for a property inspection or consistently needs to respond to your texts or emails. There’s a possibility of a red flag here.

Similarly, you might discover a lot about candidates’ personalities when interviewing them. Do they give you ambiguous replies? When they talk to you, do they appear at ease? Are they rude, obnoxious, or patronizing? The applicant might be problematic if you said “yes” to any of these.

An applicant is probably being deceptive if they come off that way. Due to the possibility of fraud, receiving a credit report straight from a tenant is not advisable. Always go out and get one on your own.

Importance of tenant screening

  1. Avoidance of late rental payments

Tenant screening gives you a sense of an applicant’s financial situation and level of financial responsibility. For instance, if an applicant has a history of credit card debt, this may indicate that they need help making timely payments when rent is due each month. On the other hand, if someone has consistently paid their debts and expenses, you can generally rely on them to make their rent payments.

  1. Property Protection 

Rental homes always experience deterioration over time. That’s why they need frequent, routine maintenance. However, you can discover that your tenants left the house in shockingly terrible shape. 

We advise working with a property management company to avoid this unpleasant surprise at the end of a tenancy. It can be the deciding factor and guarantee that the prospective tenant will take care of your property with cleanliness and respect.

  1. Security of other tenants

You have a responsibility as a landlord to safeguard your other renters. You need to conduct a background investigation to avoid renting to someone who turns out to be harmful. A criminal background check informs you of a tenant’s prior transgressions, so you can confidently decide who is authorized to live in your rental property.


It is crucial to follow the rules, even though there are a few warning signs. These red flags can make you apprehensive about accepting a candidate to live in your rental home.

If questioned, landlords and property managers must give reasonable grounds for rejecting a rental applicant. You must also follow the Fair Housing Act. You must also subject all applicants to the exact screening requirements.