As a landlord, it’s in your best interests to make sure that the tenant you approve for your property is trustworthy, respectful, and easy to work with. That’s why the tenant approval process is such an important part of every landlord’s job. If you’re in the process of screening tenants for a property that you rent, there are many vital pieces of information to collect from each potential tenant before you make your decision.
However, their rental history is one of the most crucial for ensuring your own security moving forward as well as the safety of your property. That’s why you want to look out for bad rental history in potential tenants whenever possible.
Bad rental history is anything found in a prospective renter’s history report that led to issues with landlords or even eviction in the past. As you’re screening each potential renter, you have the right to look over the details of all of the individual’s rental history, including:
- Previous addresses
- How long they lived there
- What they paid in rent
- Previous landlords’ contact information
- How often previous landlords reported late payments
If you find some issues with your potential renter’s history, it shouldn’t necessarily disqualify them as a tenant. However, it’s important to keep their potential drawbacks in mind and weigh the pros and cons, especially if they do present some advantages over other applicants.
How Can I Spot Bad Rental History as a Landlord?
There are a few key ways to spot poor tenant history as you’re screening renter applications. Being conscientious during the application process is a great way to prevent tenant issues in the future, the warning signs of which you may have overlooked in their rental history.
Be Strict with Your Application Standards
Making yourself aware of all rental history with potential renters starts with your own application process.
Not only should you create an extremely detailed application that poses all of the questions that you need answered in depth, but you should also determine what your limits are for certain answers so that you can make the best possible choices for yourself and your property.
For example, if a potential tenant’s rental history shows that they have been late on payments a few times in the past, but everything else in their application looks good, is the risk worth the reward when renting to this tenant? What about if a potential tenant has been evicted before or doesn’t have any rental history to check?
Contact All References
It’s important to leave no stone unturned when it comes to gathering useful background information about possible renters, especially if there is evidence of a negaitve rental history present. Make sure to speak directly with all previous landlords who are available and ask some specific questions:
- Were they on time with rent?
- Did they take good care of the property?
- Were they easy to communicate with?
- What was their reason for leaving?
- Did they receive their security deposit back?
- Would you rent to them again if they applied?
The answers to these questions will help you determine whether your potential tenant’s bad rental history is worth the risk or if you’re better off finding someone else for your property.
Inform Potential Tenants About Rental History Checks
During the application process, it’s important to stay honest and communicative with your applicants, just like you’re expecting honesty and communication from them.
Additionally, when you ask your applicants directly for their rental history before looking into it yourself, you can gain a great deal of important information just from their response.
If they are secretive about their rental history or unhappy that they have to provide it, you can almost guarantee that they have a negative history they’re trying to hide from future landlords.
Renting to Tenants with Bad Rental History
In some cases, a tenant will have a bad rental history on their record due to circumstances out of their control, not necessarily because of their own negligence or irresponsibility. It’s important to take these special circumstances into account and consider these applicants equally alongside all other applications. If you do choose to rent to a tenant with poor history, do your best to keep the lines of communication open and let them know you’re on their side and want to help. This approach may prevent them from hiding financial or property issues from you until they become too big to resolve.