How to spot a bad tenant

I’m sure there’s no exact science to this and it’s quite possible that we have unfairly dismissed a perfectly upstanding tenant based on our picky judgement but after suffering our fair share of bad tenants, I’m okay with that.

If you do this for long enough you’ll soon get a feel for who is a genuine candidate that will make the rental as simple as possible, who is going to be a royal pain in the butt from day one and most annoyingly, who is just a looky loo wasting your time just to get a look inside your property.

Over the years we have begun to pick up on the warning signs early on and you might find some of these signs to be painfully familiar, especially if you are still housing said bad tenants. Here’s what to look out for going forward:


Bad communication

We’ve mentioned before just how many badly worded and quite frankly horribly rude e-mails we receive from potential tenants within minutes of our listing hitting Rightmove. Quite often it will be a poorly spelled single sentence along the lines of “wen can i c it? u take dss?”

Anybody who fails to write a polite message will never be invited to view our property. And for the love of god, if you would actually read the listing you will clearly see that we have actively specified that we do not accept DSS tenants. Small piece of soul destroyed. Every. Single. Time.


Late arrival

Anybody who finds themselves unable to arrive at a destination at the pre-agreed time is quite likely to find it difficult to pay the rent on the pre-agreed date. We don’t live near our rental property and we don’t furnish it and so waiting around for someone to turn up at their leisure after an hour drive to meet them and no furniture to sit on puts me in a bad mood instantly.

Thankfully most of our viewers tend to show up early. Sometimes this can be difficult to manage but for the most part it inspires urgency for people to make an offer as they can see that the property is reasonably popular.

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Lack of respect 

Again for the most part our viewings tend to go well and it’s rare to meet people we don’t like, however we have experienced a few people who after arriving will immediately open and slam closed cupboard drawers, roughly play with windows to check they work and for some odd reason, knock on walls and stamp the floor. These people have always been foreign and so perhaps its the done thing back in Africa but get your bloody hands off my house now and get out.



We’re not a market stall, we’re renting a property in an area where demand far outweighs supply and we’re still painfully cheap. You’ve just seen three other people looking around whilst making approving noises and I have just detailed the upgrades I’ve recently made to the property. What in your head is telling you to haggle with me? That’s a firm “no” from us.


Future move in date

Our property appeals to young couples who tend to me moving out of their parents house for the first time and so they’re often pretty excited. Because of this they tend to be out property shopping weeks, or months, before they are actually ready.

We often get asked “if we pay a deposit today can you hold the flat for 2 months?”. Well, no, we can’t. You see if we do that then we are going to have two months where we don’t earn an income on a property that we are still expected to pay a mortgage on. The one time, very early on in our landlording career, that we did agree to hold our property for 4 weeks, the couple split up 3 days before move in date and though we banked the deposit, we still had to go to the trouble of finding tenants AGAIN. Not worth the hassle.

It goes without saying that poor hygiene is offputting and so dirty, smelly viewers will be shown the door in haste, and no demands to change anything in the property will be tolerated. We always present out property in it’s very best condition and if that isn’t good enough, you’re looking in the wrong price range people.

Have you got any easy bad tenant indicators? Let us know in the comments below.

Caroline Engstrom

Caroline Engstrom has a passion to help landlords and tenants by providing helpful tips and advice regarding real estates.

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