The Four Things We Look For In A Tenant

Posted on July 30, 2013 by

We’ve been managing rental properties and tenants for nearly two decades.  Over the years, we’ve learned TONS – mostly through the school of hard knocks! 

In the beginning, we were clueless – as green as the fungus between my toes.  In our middle phase of landlording, we often made things much more complicated than they needed to be.  These days, hundreds of tenants later, we’ve boiled down what we look for in a tenant to the ridiculously simple.

Here are the four things I need from a tenant: 1) Someone who will take good care of the property. 2) Someone who can comfortably afford to make on-time monthly payments. 3) Someone who is easy to deal with. 4) Someone who will be a good neighbor.

Let’s look at each of these four categories and explain why they are so important to landlords.

The thing I hate most about landlording is seeing our rental property full of trash, covered in grime, physically damaged and is infested with bugs.  This can (does) cause a man (me) to use lots of bad words that can only be forgiven in church (hopefully)!

Sidebar: In a column a few weeks back, I asked where bad tenants come from.  My answer was that they came from bad landlords.  After reading that column, Dale Yarborough, a sweetheart of a guy who owns Guardian Pest Control and is our longtime bug man, told Kim that I was dead wrong.  He pointed out that sometimes a bad tenant is just a bad tenant – no matter how good their landlord.

By the way, Dale pointed this out because – and it hurts to admit this in public – he’s treating two of our investment properties as I write this column.  Both just went vacant.  One home has a roach problem.  The other has a flea problem.  What can I say?  Dale is right, as always!

Having a tenant who is clean, organized and takes great care of the property is like having a slice of heaven in your pocket.

This leads us to number two: Not having to constantly chase someone to pay their rent on time is a wonderful thing.  Over the years, we’ve learned to quickly get rid of tenants who can’t meet their financial obligations in a timely manner.  Deadbeats will plain wear you out and can cause you to swear off landlording – forever!

Working with someone you enjoy being around has become a lot more important as I’ve gotten older.  Have you ever had a tenant who took care of the property, paid on time but was one big pain in the tail?  Every time their number comes up on your phone you just want to crawl in a hole.  If we get this kind of tenant in a property, they’ll be gone in short order.   Their backbiting just ain’t worth it.

Finally, we want tenants who are good neighbors.  Several times over the years, we’ve had tenants who believe they have the right to turn up the stereo to full blast at three o’clock in the morning.  This isn’t fair to the neighbors – and boy, angry neighbors can be another landlording nightmare!

My current lease agreement is nine pages long, but I’m seriously considering shortening it to one page and simply listing the above four things a tenant needs to do.  Am I Crazy?

Bill & Kim CookBill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.

Contact Bill & Kim Cook

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