Reposted with permission from Pat Hiban.

Property managers have many important responsibilities, but none more important than screening potential renters. When they drop the ball on this one, leasing to tenants from hell becomes a frighteningly real possibility.

James Wise

Fortunately, screening renters is a fairly straightforward process, and warning signs make it easy to identify and avoid problem tenants — if you know what to look for.

James Wise runs one of the largest brokerages in Cleveland, The Holton-Wise Property Group. Over the years, he’s helped place hundreds of renters for clients, and he knows exactly what to avoid when it comes to problem tenants.

In the podcast below, Wise shares what can happen when landlords lease to a tenant from hell. To discover what red flags to look for during the screening process, read on.


5 red flags to look for while screening renters

1. Past evictions

A history of past evictions is one of the biggest red flags for a potential tenant. If past evictions come up while screening a renter, you should remove them from consideration.

It doesn’t matter what they say about the circumstances surrounding the eviction. Renters with past evictions are far more likely than renters who have never been evicted to cause you headaches, so it’s in your best interest to avoid them entirely.

2. Violent felonies

Misdemeanors aren’t enough for most landlords to remove a potential tenant from the running, but violent felonies should never be ignored. Not only does renting to a violent felon put nearby residents at risk, it could land you in a dangerous situation in the event that eviction becomes necessary.

3. Facial tattoos

Not all people with tattoos on their face are necessarily bad tenants, but there are a couple things to consider here.

First, people with facial tattoos might have a hard time finding stable work, which is a problem for you when it comes to collecting rent.

Secondly, facial tattoos are often an indicator of past or present criminal activities, and keeping these activities away from your rentals should be a top priority.

4. Too many pets

One or two pets might not be a problem for you, but you shouldn’t take leasing to a tenant with several pets lightly. The problem with pets is that they can cause serious damage to a home, and the risk of this happening is far greater with multiple pets involved.

One of the best ways to avoid costly repairs when a tenant’s lease is up is to simply avoid tenants with several pets.

5. Asking for discounted rent

When a rental applicant asks for discounted rent in exchange for making improvements to the property, it might sound like a good deal — it’s not.

Asking for discounted rent during the application process is usually a sign of problems to come, and taking someone up on this offer will almost always put you out.

How to deal with a tenant from hell

If you’re already dealing with a terrible tenant and need help getting them out of your property, listen to Pat Hiban’s podcast interview with James Wise. In it, Wise discusses the eviction process in detail and shares some of his experiences evicting tenants from hell.

Pat Hiban sold more than 7,000 homes over the course of his 25-year career in real estate. Now, he dedicates his time to helping others succeed as agents and investors. As host of the Real Estate Rockstars Podcast, Pat interviews real estate experts to explore what works in today’s markets. He also founded Rebus University, an online training platform for real estate agents and sales professionals.

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