Tenants from Hell: 5 Telltale Signs to Look for While Screening Renters

Pat Hiban
3 min readDec 6, 2018

Property managers have many important responsibilities, but none more important than screening potential renters. When they drop the ball on this one, leasing to tenants from hell becomes a frighteningly real possibility.

Fortunately, screening renters is a fairly straightforward process, and warning signs make it easy to identify and avoid problem tenants — if you know what to look for.

Recent Real Estate Rockstars guest James Wise runs one of the largest brokerages in Cleveland, The Holton-Wise Property Group. Over the years, he’s helped place hundreds of renters for clients, and he knows exactly what to avoid when it comes to problem tenants.

In the podcast below, James shares what can happen when landlords lease to a tenant from hell. To discover what red flags to look for during the screening process, read on.

5 Red Flags to Look for While Screening Renters


A history of past evictions is one of the biggest red flags for a potential tenant. If past evictions come up while screening a renter, you should remove them from consideration.

It doesn’t matter what they say about the circumstances surrounding the eviction. Renters with past evictions are far more likely than renters who have never been evicted to cause you headaches, so it’s in your best interest to avoid them entirely.


Misdemeanors aren’t enough for most landlords to remove a potential tenant from the running, but violent felonies should never be ignored. Not only does renting to a violent felon put nearby residents at risk, it could land you in a dangerous situation in the event that eviction becomes necessary.


Not all people with tattoos on their face are necessarily bad tenants, but there are a couple things to consider here. First, people with facial tattoos will have a hard time finding stable work, which is a problem for you when it comes to collecting rent. Secondly, facial tattoos are often an indicator of past or present criminal activities, and keeping these activities away from your rentals should be a top priority.


One or two pets might not be a problem for you, but you shouldn’t take leasing to a tenant with several pets lightly. The problem with pets is that they can cause serious damage to a home, and the risk of this happening is far greater with multiple pets involved.

One of the best ways to avoid costly repairs when a tenant’s lease is up is to simply avoid tenants with several pets.


When a rental applicant asks for discounted rent in exchange for making improvements to the property, it might sound like a good deal; it’s not. Asking for discounted rent during the application process is almost always a sign of problems to come, and taking someone up on this offer will almost always put you out.

More Signs of Tenants from Hell

Want to know what else to look for when screening potential tenants? Download James Wise’s “10 Tenant Screening Red Flags” from the Agent Success Toolbox to find out.

If you’re already dealing with a terrible tenant and need help getting them out of your property, listen to Pat’s podcast interview with James Wise. In it, James discusses the eviction process in detail and shares some of his experiences evicting tenants from hell.

Pat Hiban is the author of NYT best selling book “6 steps to 7 figures — A Real Estate Professional’s Guide to Building Wealth and Creating Your Destiny”, founder of Rebus University and the host of Pat Hiban Interviews Real Estate Rockstars an Agent to Agent Real Estate Radio Podcast with Hiban Digital in Baltimore, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.



Pat Hiban

Rebus University- The Future of Real Estate Training. Real Estate Rockstars podcast- the best of the best share profit stories. NYT BS — 6 Steps to 7 Figures