If you’ve been renting out a Lakewood property for any amount of time, you probably know what to look for when you’re screening tenants: credit history, criminal background, income, and prior rental references. But, do you know the warning signs of what could potentially lead to a terrible experience with a tenant? Not all of them are obvious.
Here are some red flags you should never ignore when you’re screening prospective residents for your Lakewood rental property.
Look for Past Evictions
A lot of rental property owners will expect that prior evictions are going to show up in a credit report. Sometimes they do, but not always. Make sure you’re checking a national eviction database to ensure your prospective tenant has not been evicted previously.
Everyone believes in second chances, but it’s hard to allow a tenant to move in who has been evicted before. It indicates a huge problem in their rental history and it might also mean that they still owe money to a former landlord or housing community.
Be careful about risking your own investment income on a potential tenant who breached a lease agreement so badly that eviction was the result. Most tenants can avoid eviction even if they run into trouble paying rent. A documented eviction often means a problem tenant.
Income and Employment Cannot be Verified
The economy has changed dramatically and the employment landscape looks different now - we get it. However, your prospective tenant should still be able to verify that they earn enough income to pay rent. Maybe they don’t have a traditional 9-5 job with a pay stub or an employment contract. That’s fine, but ask for bank records or tax documents that can reflect what they earn.
Checking a potential tenant’s ability to pay your monthly rent on time must be a priority during the screening process. If your tenants are unable to pay, it means you’re not going to make any money on your rental property.
Housing-Related Debt in the Credit Report
You likely won’t find tenants with perfect credit very often. Sometimes credit card debt creeps up or it takes some time to pay back student loans and medical bills. You can evaluate a credit score, but look past the score and check the credit history. A huge red flag is payments related to housing that have not been made on time.
Utility companies, for example, who have reported late or missing payments is a cause for concern. If you find outstanding debts owed to landlords or judgments to apartment communities, this might not be the best tenant to welcome into your property.
Recent Criminal Activity
A criminal background check is a normal part of the screening process for Lakewood property managers. If you’re running a background check and you find a history of criminal activity, you need to do some further investigating. Someone who has been convicted of fraud, drug charges, violent crimes, domestic violence, or sex crimes can spell trouble in your property.
When we’re screening tenants for your property, we look for all the red flags that give us pause. We don’t like to approve tenants who resist filling out an application or consenting to reference checks or paying a security deposit. We get suspicious when tenants don’t tell us about their pets or we find they’ve had a dispute with every landlord they ever rented from.
Professional Lakewood property management can be a great way to ensure your tenants are well-screened and thoroughly vetted. If you’d like some help, we invite you to contact us at Assured Management, Lakewood property management experts serving residential landlords in West Denver and the surrounding areas, including Littleton, Golden, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, and more.