Finding the Ideal Tenant (5 Traits You Should Look for During Screening)

As a landlord, you want to find the best tenants available for your properties. After all, a good tenant is going to take care of your property and consistently pay their rent on time, allowing you to relax and focus on other things. Now the question remains, how do you find these ideal tenants? 

Finding The Ideal Tenant

As a landlord, you want to find the most ideal tenants available for your properties. After all, an ideal tenant is going to take care of your property and consistently pay their rent on time, allowing you to relax and focus on other things. Now the question remains, how do you find these ideal tenants? 

Fortunately, there are plenty of traits you can look for early while screening your tenants to make sure you are only accepting ideal tenants for your rental properties. 

However, before you dive into the hunt for an ideal tenant, let us show you how to get an ideal mortgage. All you need to do is click the link below to book a free strategy call today.

Long-Term Intentions 

One of the worst things for any landlord to deal with is tenant turnover. If your tenant leaves, especially if they do so with little-to-zero notice it can be difficult to find a new one. Even after locating a new tenant, they may not want to move in right away and may try to wait until the beginning of the next month or longer. During this time, your property is making zero dollars, but your expenses stay the same meaning you are actively losing money. So, when you are selecting an ideal tenant for your property, you want to find someone who is planning to be there for years to come. 

While screening prospective ideal tenants, ask them about their long-term plans. Many tenants will tell you if they plan on moving in the coming years, which will give you a clear idea of how long they plan on staying. Otherwise, if they do not specify how long they plan on occupying your property, ask them directly. That way you are not accidentally accepting a non-ideal tenant who plans to be gone by the end of the year. 

Reliable Income 

It should be a given that you want a tenant that is reliably able to pay the rent on-time and in-full. So, when you are screening for new ideal tenants, you want to be able to confirm that your tenants can afford it. Ask them for two-to-four month’s paystubs and the past two years of tax returns, that way you can verify they are consistently earning enough. 

When considering self-employed tenants or people who make the majority of their income from commissions, you have to do a little extra digging. On top of viewing their financial history, ask them about their budgeting strategies and what they would to make the rent during slower seasons at work. Often, these individuals will have a clear plan in place to keep payments going even if their history does not accurately reflect that. 

If you still are not 100 percent sure, ask for references from past landlords and ask them if they could make payments on time reliably. 


Some potentially ideal tenants have near-perfect payment histories, but they have a period where they fell behind and missed payments or paid late. How should you tackle this situation? 

Everyone runs into financial hardships from time-to-time. Whether there was an unexpected job loss, a medical emergency or another unexpected crisis, that does not mean the tenant is not going to be a good fit. Instead, if you find a gap in their payment history where something has clearly gone wrong, ask them about it and see how they respond. 

Most people do not want to admit when they are at fault, they would rather immediately place the blame on someone else or call it bad luck. While sometimes financial hardship is not the fault of your potential tenant, they should still display a sense of accountability in how they handled it. 

If they missed payments in the past due to job loss, check to see if they take the time to blame their former employer for their sudden job loss, or if they instead prioritize the face that their job search afterwards took longer than intended causing them to miss payments. The latter of the two responses indicates someone who holds themselves accountable and is willing to do their best to avoid the same problem from happening again in the future. Meanwhile the former indicates someone too preoccupied in placing blame to acknowledge their own room for growth. 

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Low Maintenance 

If there is one thing worse than a lazy tenant, it is a high-maintenance tenant. You know the type, constantly calling you and asking for you to repaint, update the flooring and replace appliances and gadgets around the home with newer versions, even if there is nothing wrong with the ones that are currently there. You do not want those tenants because you will find yourself stuck in a loop of hearing their demands and either catering to them or ignoring them and enduring their complaints. 

However, that is not to be confused with a tenant who is always on the ball when bringing legitimate concerns to you. For example, a tenant who notifies you of leaks and cracked tiles is not being high maintenance, they are being responsible. 

To determine whether a potentially ideal tenant will be high or low maintenance, reach out to former landlords of theirs and ask them. Just be wary that current landlords may tell you they are low maintenance in order to get them to move, so it is better to ask landlords with no stake in their current living situation. 

Ideal Tenants Are Clean

Nobody wants a messy tenant. It does not matter how consistently they make their rent payments. 

While dirty tenants are generally a displeasure, they also can cost you money in property maintenance as their messes are very likely to attract local pests. As well messier people have a tendency to cause more wear and tear on the property/ 

In order to screen for this, you can find a reason to visit them at their current residence to conduct part of your screening process, that way you can see how they keep their home, and by extension how they will keep your property. 

Bonus: Financing a Rental Property 

If you are planning to buy a rental property in the near future, do not hesitate to speak with a mortgage professional in advance to go over your financing options. Depending on the property you are planning to buy, you may qualify for a variety of residential and commercial mortgage products. To start your inquiry now, visit us at or give us a call at 519-960-0370.  Alternatively, you can click the link below to book a free strategy call with our team at LendCity.

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