10 Qualities of a Good Tenant

The first, and arguably most important, thing to do is to screen your potential tenant, which will include looking at their credit score as well as their criminal and eviction history.

1. Credit and Criminal History Check
A clean criminal or eviction history might be an indicator that this person will be a good renter, and the same goes for their financial information.  In the credit check, you’ll be able to see their credit cards, accounts, lines of credit, and if they’ve ever been sent to collections. A good tenant will have a fairly straightforward and clean looking credit history. Although it varies among the three different credit bureaus, a credit score between 670-800 is considered good, with 800 being the highest possible score.

2. Respectful of Your Time
If you’ve set up a tour of the unit, you should expect your potential renter to be early or at least on time to the appointment. Arriving late and having an excuse for doing so shows that the person doesn’t respect your time. You likely have a few different prospects looking at the unit, and you’d probably rather have one who shows a mutual respect. Starting your landlord-tenant relationship on the right foot is important, and being late to appointments is not the way to do it.

3. Polite During the Interview
Having a face-to-face, sit down “interview” with a potential renter is a good time to gauge that person’s personality traits. Do they answer your questions in a polite way? Are they argumentative when asked a question they don’t like? Do they get quarrelsome or defensive during the interview? Take note of any personality traits that they display during the interview; remember that you will have an ongoing relationship with this person, and if your personalities clash, it might not be a good fit.

4. Provide Documents to You in a Timely Fashion
If a prospect gets their application filled out, background check paid for, and references sent to you within a day or two, you might have yourself a good tenant. The faster they get their documents to you, the better. It shows that they are serious about signing the lease and don’t want to waste your time or theirs shopping around at other places. Set a time frame and expect that they will get their documents to you within it.

5. Stable Job
When you gather their personal information, job history should be one thing to look at closely. If they’ve been at their current employer for a few years or held a few different roles within the same company, that’s a good sign. Having a consistent job signifies that they have a steady income and are financially stable, two things that make a great tenant.

6. Respond Promptly
People who return your phone calls and emails promptly usually make good tenants. If you have to wait a few days or weeks for them to respond to even a non-urgent matter, they probably don’t value this living situation as much as you’d like. Having a renter who is responsive and willing to work with you efficiently is a great sign.

7. Doesn’t Make Financial Excuses
If you’ve found something a bit off in their credit check, you might want to ask about it in the face-to-face interview. If the prospective renter answers the tough questions in a straightforward, upfront way, it may set your mind at ease. If they skirt around the questions or seem to have multiple excuses for their financial troubles, they might not be the right tenant for your rental.

8. Good References
Doing your due diligence and calling previous landlord and personal references is important when deciding whether or not you’ve found a good tenant. Past landlords have nothing to lose by speaking about their old tenants, and if a landlord speaks highly or positively of them, that person is probably going to be a good renter. Speaking to employers, friends, and other personal references is a great way to gain insight into who this person is outside of being a tenant.

9. Long Term Plans to Live in Unit
Sure, a year-long lease is a great start, but you’d love for a tenant to rent the unit for as long as possible. It can be difficult to know whether a tenant will want to l extend the initial lease terms, but some people do express long term plans. The more committed a person seems to living there for multiple years, the more likely they are to be as invested in care and maintenance of the rental as you are.

10. They Ask You Questions, Too
Making sure you’ve asked all the right questions and covered all your bases is crucial to the rental process, but don’t forget that your prospective renter should want to know about you, too. A good tenant will want to know your history as a landlord, if this is your only job, how much time you dedicate to your rentals, and a variety of other things. The more they want to know about you as a landlord, the better.

There’s no one way to know if you have found the perfect renter, but these qualities can be good indicators. 

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