How to Choose Good Tenants: Landlord Tips

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 01, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When choosing new tenants, landlords have a host of valid concerns. Besides needing someone who can pay the rent (and on time), a landlord wants a tenant who is respectful of his neighbors and the property, does not engage in criminal activity, and won't necessitate a trip to a landlord-tenant lawyer.

If you rent property, or are simply looking for a new roommate, here are a few landlord tips to help make sure you get a good tenant.

1. Check them out. Go beyond the standard credit check and conduct a thorough background check. You'll want to know if the potential tenant has a criminal record, whether he has been steadily employed, and if he's had a stable place of residence for the past few years. The best tenants, landlords often say, are the ones who demonstrate sustained responsibility.

2. Make those phone calls. This is perhaps the most important of these landlord tips. Tenants often rely on the fact that so few landlords call employers and past housing references. But the fact is that people will often talk if given the chance, so call up and see what everyone has to say. This includes the actual tenant.

3. Keep an open mind. Your perfect tenant may have a credit history marred with collection actions and foreclosures. Foreclosures are common in this market, so ask the potential tenant about the situation. You may find that the tenant can easily afford rent, but just couldn't carry a huge mortgage. Same goes for collection actions. Are they for credit card debt, or medical bills from an unexpected accident? Ask questions.

In addition to minding these three tips for choosing tenants, landlords should sit down with a landlord-tenant lawyer and devise a standardized process by which to pick tenants. Not only will such a plan ease the burden of choosing tenants, it will also prevent accidental violations of the law.

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