How to Identify and Avoid the “Professional Tenant”

If you’re a first-time landlord, you might have never heard of the term “professional tenant.” This refers to the type of person who moves in with no intention of paying rent, causes headaches at every turn, and leaves the property in horrible condition.

We’ve been around the block a few times as a property management company, so we’re going to give you some great landlord tips so you can spot and avoid the “professional tenant” who refuses to leave the property and knows how to work the system.

Identifying the Deceiver

At first glance, a “professional tenant” will look just like anyone else – like the best tenant you’ve ever had, maybe! They could be well-dressed, polite, and educated. 

Those looks are deceiving. “Professional tenants” know how to work you AND the system, so don’t be fooled by their slick appearance. 

Here are some red flags that indicate a person may be a professional tenant waiting to attack.

  • They want to bypass a credit check with a cash offer – cash that may very well be owed to their previous landlord.
  • They try to play on your emotions. They seem like great people. Maybe they even tell a sob story. Professional tenants will seem like they are desperate to rent a home because they are avoiding a bad situation somewhere else.
  • They seem well-educated on federal, state, and local laws as they relate to landlord and tenant rights. They “know their rights,” and aren’t afraid to let you know that as much as possible. And they’ll stay until the very last moment (or until the sheriff arrives).
  • They are uncomfortable with participating in a background check OR that background check results in evictions, litigation, bankruptcies, felonies, etc. Don’t ever bypass this step if they “seem like nice people.” Nice people might not have good credit and be reliable for paying rent on time 12 months a year.
  • They are unable to provide references from past landlords or employers. Be cautious here as well. Sometimes they will pass along the names of friends or fake landlords. Do your due diligence!
  • They have unexplained gaps in their rental history.

Of course, there are some exceptions to these red flags. For example, someone with a gap in their rental history may have had to move home after a medical emergency; someone with a felony may have found themselves in a bad situation that they have since rectified and they are now a valuable member of society. 

It’s very important to have a face-to-face conversation with a prospective tenant so they can have a chance to explain any red flags, and so you can apply your best judgment. 

Moon Ridge makes it a point to conduct background and credit checks AND visit the property of applicants to ensure they respect the property.

Avoiding the “Professional Tenant”

The best way to avoid a “professional tenant” is to have a no-exceptions thorough vetting process. If you encounter a tenant that is put off by processes like credit and background checks, you know that they aren’t the best fit. 

  • Require references from past landlords – and follow up
  • Verify employment, banking information, and court records
  • Complete and background and credit check – remind them that this is completely standard for every tenant and you complete this process with zero discrimination
  • Document everything so you have a record, just in case you ever need to refer back to something that occurred.

Make it Easy to Avoid “The Professionals”

Don’t stress out about finding the perfect tenant. Let Moon Ridge Property Management do it for you! We are well-equipped to perform a throughout vetting process on every single one of our applicants. If we wouldn’t want them living in our home, they won’t be living in yours.