What are the Qualities of a Good Tenant?
They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, that may be a fine saying when it comes to literature, but when you’re trying to find the right tenant to fill a vacancy, there’s a bit more at stake. After all, unless you want to deal with property damage, late rent payments, and time-consuming eviction processes, you should be doing everything in your power to determine exactly who will—and who will not—end up being the kind of renter you’re looking for. But what is it exactly that defines a good tenant? We’ve narrowed it down to seven specific qualities that you should look for when trying to select the right person to entrust with your property.
1. Job Stability
While almost anyone can scrounge enough money together to pay rent every now and again, those who are able to consistently get the check into your hands before the due-date are generally those who have stable employment. At the same time, the ability to hold onto a job for an extended period demonstrates commitment, reliability, and maturity. Be wary of any prospective tenants who have worked multiple jobs within the last few years, as they could end up being unreliable when it comes to their own responsibilities as renters.
No tenant stays forever, and once a tenant leaves, you’re going to want your property back in the same condition that it was when you first rented it out. Well, in order for that to happen, you’ll need to have tenants who take personal responsibility for the condition of the property while they call it home. Tenants who are themselves clean and demonstrate good personal hygiene are more likely to translate that trait into good housekeeping and property management skills.
Your relationship with you tenant is defined by a contract, but there’s no way that that contract will be able to determine responsibility for every unique situation. Likewise, you’ll often have to rely on the tenant themselves when gathering information regarding issues and problems. A trustworthy renter will make things much easier on you by being honest and living up to their part of the rental agreement without looking for loopholes.
You may think that as long as you get your rent check on time, it’s not any of your business how law-abiding your tenants are. However, the reality is that in addition to posing a danger to property, neighbors, and even themselves, criminals are often much more likely to try to take advantage of you and avoid their own responsibilities as renters. Additionally, as the owner, you may be held legally liable for criminal activity that occurs on your property. Suffice it to say that tenants who engage in illegal activities will cause you nothing but stress and expense in the long run.
5. Thoroughness/Attention to Detail
A rental agreement is a legally-binding contract. As such, it’s not something that should be entered into lightly. Prospective tenants who make a point to read and understand the lease—even if they have to ask questions along the way—show their own respect for the agreement. And, because they are willing to take the time to figure out what exactly is expected of them as a renter, they’ll be less likely to renege on the agreement.
Human beings are social animals, which means that we tend to work best when we get along with each other. So, unless you’re renting out a piece of property that’s out in the middle of nowhere, you should consider just how friendly your potential renter is. When renters are unable to play nice with their neighbors, then invariably the end result is increased complaints, reduced renter satisfaction, and an all around cut in your profits. Try to make things easier on everyone involved, and find tenants who make good neighbors.
7. Low “Stress Quotient”
If you take the various traits displayed by your tenant and add them all together, you get something called the “stress quotient.” This is a general idea of the amount of stress that any one particular tenant might cause you. So, talk with the tenant, do background checks for criminal and credit history, ask for references from previous landlords, make note of the state of the car they drive, ask them directly about criminal activity and drug use, and yes, go ahead and judge that book by its cover (within the legal bounds of the Fair Housing Act, of course), because once the contract is signed, you’ll be stuck with each other for a while. If you can locate someone who demonstrates these seven traits, you’ll be much less likely to end up having to regret it.