👋 Join us for a special webinar Thursday, January 11th
Learn More

10 Tenant Red Flags to Keep an Eye Out For

Ethan Lieber
November 27, 2018
10 Tenant Red Flags to Keep an Eye Out For

Want to avoid renter issues? Keep an eye out for these 10 tenant red flags and reduce your risk of choosing bad tenants.

Tenants who pay their rent on time and look after your investment property are gold. But you might have to sift through a lot of rubble first before you find them. It’s a good idea to have rigorous screening techniques in place, and look out for these tenant red flags to reduce the risk of choosing a bad tenant.

Keep in mind that not every red flag is obvious, so you’ll have to use your common sense and instincts. If you sense there are tenant warning signs, it’s best not to go there.

10 Tenant Red Flags to Keep an Eye Out For

1. Not Enough Income

Asking applicants for their payslips may seem like prying, but when it comes time to pay rent you’ll be glad you did. All property managers ask for proof of income, because why would you lease to someone who can’t afford it? It’s got eviction written all over it.

A potential tenant needs to be able to afford rent every week, not just the first week they move in. Ideally you’re looking for someone with an income 2.5 to 3 times the cost of the rent.

2. They Are Currently Unemployed

Don’t fall into the trap of listening to sob stories about bad luck and job applications being unfairly rejected. If they haven’t got a job, they can’t pay rent, period. Don’t lease to them.

3. Bad Credit Score

A bad credit score should send up a red flag for two reasons. One, it indicates that this person has defaulted on credit card, loan or rent payments in the past. Two, it suggests they’re a risky prospect for future rent payments.

Look at the evidence in front of you and read the tenant warning signs. Renting to anyone with less than a 620 FICO credit score is asking for trouble.

4. They Have a Prior Eviction

This is one of the biggest tenant red flags to look out for! An eviction is the biggest renter misdemeanor there is. Landlords don’t evict tenants unless it was for something really serious, like non-payment of rent, drugs or damage of property. Do you really want to put this person in your property? No!

5. They Have a Criminal Record

Someone who has a criminal record likes to live outside the law. Although people can be arrested and released later, being convicted of a crime and having it on your record is a different story. It’s publicly available information for landlords to view as part of their applicant screening checks.

You may be of the opinion that they’ve done time for the crime, but it depends what the crime was. Domestic violence? DUI? Theft? It’s best to steer clear.

6. Glowing Landlord References

A tenant who’s had a bad experience with a prior landlord isn’t going to ask them for a reference. They’re going to get a friend or relative to pretend to be one. References that seem too good to be true can be a potential tenant scam.

Always follow up with previous landlords for the real story, and to find out if they’re genuine. Ask questions such as – was the rent was always paid on time? Did they receive their whole deposit back? Did they terminate their lease early?

7. Lying on the Application

What if you find out the applicant has lied on their application? Maybe they’ve faked their income or references or given a false employment history? There’s no second chance on this one, you can’t do business with someone you don’t trust.

8. The Application is Incomplete

Receiving an incomplete tenancy application is a big red flag. If the reason is they couldn’t be bothered filling it in, they might not be bothered to pay you rent! Perhaps they felt uncomfortable filling out certain sections, which begs the question – what are they hiding? You’ll find out if you sign them up as renters. Best not to be curious, and move on.

9. They Seem High Maintenance

If a potential tenant is difficult to deal with or demanding from the outset, it doesn’t bode well for them being a good tenant. They’re likely to try and make you bend to their will in every issue that arises, from rent, to plumbing. Save yourself a future headache.

10. Looking to Move in Quickly

If someone wants to move in straight away, it may not be a good thing. Why are they keen to move in so quickly? Did they leave their current landlord in the lurch and skip off without notice? It pays to do a little digging and find out what’s going on, before you go ahead and sign them up.

The reason might be fine, for example, they’ve just moved into town. But it’s one of the tenant warning signs you shouldn’t ignore. When it comes to renters you need to gather as much information as you can before you make such an important decision. After all, if you ignore the red flags, it’s your rental income that will be affected.

About the Author

Angela Pearse is a blogger for Zumper who frequently combines travel with freelance writing. She’s passionate about Art Deco hotels, historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.

Share this
Related Posts

See why property managers love using Latchel

Unlock the Potential of Digital Insurance
Launch a tailored renter's insurance program

Sure provides tailored renter’s insurance that enables property managers, owners, and residents to protect their property, minimize risk, and experience the peace of mind that comes with the protection of your assets and business.

Most leases require renters insurance. So, we’ve partnered with Sure to provide that option for your residents. While residents aren’t required to use Sure to meet the renter’s insurance requirement, this is still a convenient option you can offer to your tenants. 

All services and products are provided by Sure, not Latchel subject to Sure’s terms and conditions.

Property Inspection Platform
Automate and Organize Inspections with RentCheck

Make Inspections Easier
RentCheck saves time by enabling residents to complete inspections on their own. Customization and automation ensure the job gets done.


Stop Wasting Time
Schedule inspections for all stages of the lease cycle at any cadence you choose. RentCheck handles the reminders.


Instantly Submit Work Orders
Take advantage of Latchel's integration with RentCheck to instantly submit a work order for any maintenance issues that pop up on an inspection.


Modernize Your Process
Easily compare new and existing inspection reports, side-by-side, and avoid security deposit disputes.


Prompt Routine Filter Changes and Resident Tasks
Schedule resident reminders to replace filters and other upkeep tasks over the course of the lease lifecycle.

To learn more about RentCheck, talk with a Latchel benefits expert today. All services and products are provided by RentCheck, not Latchel, and subject to RentCheck’s terms and conditions.

Affordable Pest Control

Access world class pest control for a fraction of the normal price. No need for new software or a complicated setup.


Easy Pest Control
Residents simply reach out to Cover Pest if there is a pest issue, and Cover Pest takes it from there.


Clarity on Who Pays the Bill
No more awkward conversations about who is responsible for the bill! With Cover Pest as a resident benefit, residents get pest control for covered pests without an additional cost.


Vendor Sourcing
No more sourcing for vendors! Cover Pest will source and coordinate with vendors for each pest control request

To learn more about Cover Pest, talk to a Latchel benefits specialist today.  All services and products are provided by Cover Pest, not Latchel, and subject to Cover Pest’s terms and conditions.

Air Filter Delivery Subscription

FilterTime is an air filter delivery service that makes it easy and convenient for residents to replace their air filters. FilterTime customers can protect their HVAC system, reduce dust and pollen, save money on energy costs, and more by leveraging this delivery service.


Reduce Labor for HVAC Issues
Filter delivery service results in a 38% reduction of total HVAC ticket requests.


Cost Savings on HVAC Repairs
Average HVAC repair costs have increased by 48.7% year over year. an air filter delivery subscription can cut costs up to $250-300 per property per year.


Energy Reduction
Filter delivery is saving residents $14.82 per month in energy costs.

How it works:

Choose from almost every size and type of air filter including custom-made sizes

Choose how often you want your filters delivered


 A box of brand new air filters delivered to your resident’s front door

To learn more about FilterTime, talk with a Latchel benefits specialist today. All services and products are provided by FilterTime, not Latchel subject to FilterTime’s terms and conditions.

Boost resident satisfaction and drive good resident behavior through a rewards, incentives, and credit building program

Drive On-Time Rent Payments
Piñata rewards renters for on-time rent payments through Piñata cash, and boosts renter's credit scores for online payments.


Boost Resident Satisfaction
$30 gift card to use at select brands and businesses, $25 restaurant card, 720 annual Piñata Cash to use on rewards, Early lease renewal gift.


Attract and Retain Renters
2 out of 3 renters prefer properties with rent reporting. Plus, residents get incentives for early lease renewals.


Rewards Residents Love
Residents can use Piñata Cash on brands they know and love, such as: Starbucks, Amazon, Sephora, Lego, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Doordash, Best Buy, and many more!

Piñata Cash

Residents easily earn Piñata Cash any day of the month by doing things like taking surveys, referring friends, or trying out new products.

Residents also get access to big-ticket giveaways, limited drops and super surges!

And, with exclusive access to our marketplace with over 300,000 deals, residents can squirrel away up to $4,500 annually.

To learn more about Piñata, talk with a member of our benefits team today. All services and products are provided by Piñata, not Latchel subject to Piñata’s terms and conditions.

Master Liability Insurance

Now you have one less thing to worry about with a Master Liability Policy through Obie.


Affordable Coverage
Affordable policies available with liability coverage starting at $100,000 and up to $300,000 to meet any property manager insurance requirements.


Stay 100% Compliant
Master policy provides $100,000 for management companies and owners by ensuring 100% of occupied homes and units are covered for property damage liability issues relating to resident negligence.


Peace of Mind
Liability coverages include perils such as fire, smoke, water, explosion, overflow of sewer, and many others that provide coverage for damages you (the resident) may cause to your unit or home


Personal Liability
Personal liability coverage is automatically include to protect you against claims where you may be considered legally liable. (Bodily injury claims, dog bite claims, and more)


Additional Coverages
Additional/expanded coverages are also available. (Pet damage, identity fraud, theft/vandalism, and more are available!)

All services and products are provided through Obie and are subject to Obie’s terms and conditions.

👋 Join us for a special webinar Thursday, January 11th