5 Red Flags of Potential Tenants

At Merit Co., we consider ourselves experts in finding the best potential tenants for your rental properties in Colorado Springs.  In this article, we will share with you some of the biggest red flags that we look out for when we critically select your future property occupants.   

Why Quality Tenants are Important

There are many reasons why having a reliable and responsible tenant is crucial to the success of your rental investment.  Establishing a solid tenant/landlord relationship will ensure that your property is well taken care of and occupied for a long time.  Quality tenants will help you to avoid costly evictions, non-payments, and potential damage to your property.  There is a lot of information out there about what makes a good tenant, but not as much about the red flags to look for when evaluating potentials.

5 Tenant Red Flags

Bad Credit and Background

As a landlord, one of your first obligations is finding a tenant who will be able to pay your rent rates on time every month without any prodding. Your best chance of finding such a tenant is to run a credit check on all your applicants.

First, remember that your prospective tenant must consent to a credit check for you to legally run one on them.  Someone who is unwilling to consent to a credit check, though, is showing you another red flag.  If a prospective tenant does not want you seeing their credit history, chances are they have something to hide.  Make the credit check a compulsory part of your tenant screening process and drop anyone who will not consent.

In addition to running a credit check on your prospective tenants, you should also get them to consent to a criminal background check.  Most states will allow you to reject potential tenants if they have been convicted of violent crimes, sex offenses, or drug offenses, since such histories could indicate a person who is a threat to you, your property, your neighbors, or any other tenants you may have.

However, when you do run a criminal history check, make sure you know the rules.  Knowing your state’s stance on tenant discrimination and know which offenses you can use to disqualify tenants and which (more minor) offenses you cannot, is very important. Doing your homework will help you avoid being the subject of a discrimination lawsuit or investigation in the future.  Running credit and background checks is something that your property management company can handle with ease.  At Merit Co., we know the local laws and regulations that will ensure that you avoid any hiccups with the law.


If your tenant has a history of evictions, you should not let them live in your rental, especially if they have multiple evictions on their eviction report.  Evictions are time-consuming and put you at risk of losing rental income during the process.

The above listed red flags are considered “obvious” when screening tenants.  What can be more difficult to spot are the “subtle” red flags.  These can be harder to spot if you lack tenant screening experience.  These are things we notice straight away at Merit Co. and help us to weed out the bad apples.

Complaints about your rental application

Most qualified tenants understand that part of the renting process involves some sort of application.  A tenant with nothing to hide will be happy to provide personal information to move them forward with an application to secure your rental property.  Anyone who questions a landlord’s need to verify employment, credit, and references might be concerned about uncovering something bad.

Leaving blank spaces on your rental application

It is our opinion that serious applicants should treat their rental application like they do a job application.   Just as mistakes and empty spaces would put someone low in the applicant pool for a new hire, the same should be true for rental applicants.  A misspelled street name or inaccurate reference phone number can demonstrate negligence, but it could also be an attempt to mislead a landlord.  Similarly, if your applicant left parts of their application blank, it might signal that they are not serious about getting approved or they don’t want you investigating further because they have something to hide.

Moving too often

For you to make the most income from your rental property, you need to find long-term tenants.  Paying attention to your potential tenant’s moving history can be a sign that they are typically short-term tenants.  It is our suggestion that if your potential tenant has moved more than three times in the last five years, you should investigate further and ask some important questions:  Are they hard to please?  Do they have difficulties holding down a job?  These are questions you need answers to be able to determine if they intend to stay in your property.

While there are several red flags that might make you hesitant about approving an applicant to live in your rental property, it is always important to stay compliant with the law.  Landlords and property managers must provide legitimate reasons for denying a rental applicant if asked.  We must also follow regulations outlined by the Fair Housing Act and apply the same screening criteria to every applicant.  In summary, it’s important to trust a property management company like Merit Co. to handle the screening process for your potential tenants.  We know what great tenants look like and will ensure you are getting the most out of your investment.  Having quality, reliable, and responsible tenants is crucial.  Contact us today to get the process started!

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