Red Flags: Signs of Problematic Tenants You Should Never Ignore

As a landlord or property manager, selecting the right tenants for your rental properties is crucial for a smooth and profitable renting experience. While most tenants are responsible and respectful, there are those who may cause issues, potentially leading to financial loss and headaches. In this blog post, we’ll explore some red flags that indicate problematic tenants and provide guidance on how to spot them during the tenant screening process.

  1. Inconsistent Rental History

One of the first red flags to watch out for is an inconsistent rental history. If a prospective tenant frequently moves from one rental property to another or has gaps in their rental history, it may suggest instability or a history of disputes with previous landlords.

  1. Poor Credit History

A tenant’s credit history can reveal a lot about their financial responsibility. Be wary of applicants with a history of late payments, collections, or bankruptcy. A low credit score may indicate a likelihood of rent payment issues.

  1. Insufficient Income

A tenant’s income should ideally be at least three times the monthly rent to ensure they can comfortably afford the property. If an applicant’s income falls significantly below this threshold, they may struggle to meet their financial obligations.

  1. Incomplete or Inaccurate Application

A tenant who submits an incomplete or inaccurate rental application may be trying to hide something. This could include prior evictions, criminal history, or financial problems. Pay close attention to application details and follow up on any inconsistencies.

  1. Negative References from Previous Landlords

When contacting previous landlords as part of the tenant screening process, pay attention to any negative feedback. If previous landlords express concerns about late rent payments, property damage, or disruptive behavior, it’s a clear red flag.

  1. Frequent Change in Employment

Tenants with a history of frequent job changes may struggle to maintain stable income, potentially impacting their ability to pay rent consistently. Review their employment history to assess stability.

  1. Evasive or Uncooperative Behavior

During the application process, be cautious of applicants who display evasive or uncooperative behavior. If they are hesitant to provide requested information or seem unresponsive, it may indicate a lack of transparency.

  1. Multiple Applicants for a Single Unit

If several individuals apply for the same rental unit but appear unrelated, it could be a sign of overcrowding. Overcrowding can lead to increased wear and tear on the property and potential lease violations.

  1. Past Legal Issues

Review public records for any past legal issues involving the applicant, such as criminal convictions or civil disputes. While a single incident may not necessarily disqualify them, patterns of legal trouble should raise concerns.

  1. Poor Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential for a positive landlord-tenant relationship. If an applicant consistently displays poor communication skills or is unresponsive during the application process, it may indicate future communication challenges.

How to Handle Red Flags

When you encounter red flags during the tenant screening process, it’s essential to proceed cautiously:

  • Verify Information: Confirm any discrepancies or concerns by contacting references, checking public records, and conducting thorough background checks.
  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of your interactions with applicants and any information uncovered during the screening process. This documentation can be valuable if issues arise later.
  • Consult Legal Counsel: If you have doubts or concerns about an applicant’s suitability, consider consulting legal counsel to ensure you are following all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Trust Your Instincts: As a landlord or property manager, your experience and intuition can be valuable tools. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore your instincts.


Tenant screening is a critical aspect of successful property management, and identifying red flags can help you avoid potential issues down the road. At Brady Realty Group, we understand the importance of thorough tenant screening and can assist you in identifying problematic tenants while also finding responsible and reliable ones.

Contact us today to learn more about our property management services and how we can help you navigate the tenant screening process effectively. Your peace of mind and the success of your rental properties depend on making informed tenant selection decisions—reach out to us now!