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Written by David Lowrey, Owner of Stress Free Property Management

4) They delay submitting their rental application and leave information blank, while pressuring you with a deadline of how they must move in or else something terrible will occur. This is a common one that shows up after the tenant has met with you. If they’ve succeeded in getting you to take their money, they will try and delay and guilt you into letting them move in before this is done. Even worse, they’ll just move in. 

I’ve have a neighbor who just went through this. The prospect kept giving excuses about their computer not working, they must leave work to fax it or haven’t had time, and my personal favorite, “I already sent it to you.” The last one is insidious, because they’ll send an incomplete one without their social security number, or they won’t sign the rental application.  In any case, my advice is to immediately deny them. Incomplete rental applications or delays in giving it should result in automatic denial of application. Just be sure you don’t fall prey to their stories and take their money, give them the keys, and intend to do the paperwork later.

5) They list their family as their rental reference. We see this one all the time. Obviously living with family doesn’t automatically mean they are a terrible tenant.  What it does mean is to tread carefully. I would suggest requiring one verifiable rental history other than family. If they can’t provide one, deny them immediately. 

 Let’s say they do have a second landlord reference. Make sure you check out this landlord does in fact own the home. It is not uncommon for this reference to be a friend, who is posing as a landlord.  The true test is the credit and criminal background check. If those are bad there is a good chance the landlord reference is not valid. Regardless, I would deny them on the credit or criminal background according to your guidelines. 

6) They are having a horrible personal or family tragedy designed to make you feel guilty. This one really prays on your heart strings. I’ve had tenants tell me their daughter just passed away, which is why they just moved to Florida with no job. They offered to prepay 2 months rent, but that is all the rent I would likely ever see based on the rest on my screening. The key here is there is some sort of tragic story that is the reason why they don’t have enough money for the security deposit, want to move in before background checks, or why the rent should be lower. 

Now I do understand that these sorts of tragedies do occur, but please remember you are not their family, minister, or therapist. Your sole responsibility is to provide a clean, well maintained rental at a price reasonable to the market place. Don’t let them suck you into the soap opera of their life. Their goal is to get you emotionally invested so you relax your standards and accept less money, overlook a previous eviction, lack of rental history, or worse do no background checks at all.

7) They create some major economic incentive for you to allow them to move in now. This one really trips new landlord up. The play here is to prepay or promise to prepay their rent in return for a concession on past evictions, no job, unverifiable rental history, you name it. Now you will find legitimate people who want to do this and will pass all background checks. I would not recommend accepting that much in advance. There are a lot of reasons, and I’ll probably write an additional article on this. The Short story is, because it makes it very difficult to get rid of them, if something goes wrong with them or their family in terms of taking care of the property.

However, the people who are horrible tenants will use this strategy along with some other red flags above, to con you into lower rent, no security deposit, and/or no screening of their past. It won’t come out that way at first. They’ll get you all excited about the place being rented and prepaid rent and then only pay a month or two with the promise of the rest in a few weeks. Obviously, that day never arrives, and you soon discover the con and realize you did not do proper screening.  Often this is pulled day of move-in. They’ll give you a month or two worth of rent, and promise the rest day of move-in and then never pay. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. Please like it and follow my Facebook page at I also have an active YouTube Channel where I discuss these and other interesting or funny topics of property management. Please check it out at

Best regards,

David Lowrey

Stress Free Property Management

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