- Not all tenants are equal in the eyes of the landlord & agent.
In competitive rental markets, property managers need to quickly whittle down a pile of applications into the best possible tenants for their landlords.
It’s not an exact science, but there are several hallmarks of “bad tenants” they’ll use to weed out the weakest applications and to make their final decisions.
Terri Scheer Insurance executive manager Carolyn Parella warned of tenants who try to keep a distance from their landlord and who avoid leaving a paper trail.
“New, potential drug manufacturing tenants may be willing to pay rent months in advance and be happy to pay cash,” Ms Parella said.
She also warned of tenants who “try to avoid background checks”. This could include providing false references or not wanting to provide contact details.
When contacting a referee there are specific questions landlords and property managers should ask to determine whether an applicant is worth considering.
“Speak with previous landlords or property managers and ask whether they have had any issues with the tenants being reviewed, including late or missed rental payments and incidences of malicious or accidental damage,” Ms Parella said.
She said property managers should research the national tenancy databases to double check their rental history, undertake a public record check for bankruptcies and other details, and verify their identity.
But a negative mark on a tenancy database doesn’t necessarily mean a renter is going to be bad, Tenants Union of NSW policy officer Ned Cutcher said.
“The question of whether or not they’re a bad tenant warrants further exploration,” Mr Cutcher said.
“It puts them in a vulnerable position and to put a line through them without an opportunity to talk through what went on is symptomatic of our housing system.”
How a tenant acts at an open home can also be a deal breaker for some landlords. But while considering how polite an individual is, and how well-dressed they are, is “reasonable to a point” it isn’t always indicative of a good tenant, he said.
“In many cases you’re lining up with other hopefuls, it’s not quite what you are after and you’re expected to put on a cheshire cat grin. It’s a bit shallow but that’s the way decisions are being made about how you’re going to be housed,” he said.
“The best applicant might be the one that doesn’t immediately leap out at you,” he said.
It’s often not just one single warning sign but a combination of red flags that should be cause for concern. But in a competitive market it could be a single black mark that results in a potential tenant being unsuccessful in their application.
Unfortunately for most tenants, if you don’t get the rental “there’s no obligation for the landlord to provide a reason … most tenants wouldn’t hear back,” Mr Cutcher said.
Buyer’s agents and property management company Right Property Group director Victor Kumar said without a rental history they’d be willing to “give [a tenant] a break if everything else checks out”.
“I find that most times these tenants are grateful and will stay long term,” Mr Kumar said.
They also research the tenant’s workplace online, check on the ASIC register and ABN search where necessary to ensure the applicant is being truthful.
Asking for a month or two worth of bank statements can “tell a story too” about a tenant’s financial habits, Mr Kumar said, as can looking them up on social media.
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