Finding The Perfect Tenant: 5 Things to look for in a potential tenant

Renting your property out can be a challenging and trying experience. You’re essentially handing over responsibility of a major asset to a total stranger and hoping it works out.

So how do you go about making the right call when it comes to choosing a tenant?

Well, if you cover these five bases, you can’t lose.


Rental History

This should be top of the list when it comes to finding a tenant. There’s nothing worse than letting someone use your property as a trial run for their transition into adulthood. Getting an insight into a potential tenant’s rental history is a good indication as to what kind of tenant they might be. It will also tell you if they’ve ever been evicted or had any previous warnings – both of which are rental red flags. If they’re hesitant to share their renting past, you should be hesitant to hand over the keys. Remember, vague equals void!

Employment Status

Checking into someone’s financial situation is a necessary and important part of the rental process. You need to know that this tenant isn’t going to send you broke or cause you any kind of financial difficulty.

That’s not to say you have to conduct a forensic investigation into their accounts. However it’s considered fair to ask about their job and the regularity of their pay. It’s also smart to ask for the first two months of rent up front.


While your tenant-to-be might have a stellar rental history, it’s worth asking for references so you can get an idea of what kind of person they are. Much like a job interview, the onus is on you to cross check. Typically you’d be after three references, normally a mix of previous employers, university lecturers or managers.

Be wary of people who either have no references – therefore no one to vouch for them – or people who list their parents. Unfortunately, relatives don’t count in the rental game.

Identifying the Occupants

When you’re screening tenants, you have to know who will be living in the property and why – outside of those on the lease.

Subletting is increasingly common and as the property owner, you are the one who carries the risk – not the renter. Does the tenant have a partner, will they be staying over? If yes, how many nights a week? These are all valid questions and ones you’ll regret not asking. This is also an ideal time to inquire as to how they feel about inspections. How they react to this question is a dead giveaway about whether or not they plan to sublet.

Describe your lifestyle?

If their answer is “party all day, every day” politely show them the door.

Evaluating what kind of lifestyle they lead is an essential part of vetting a potential tenant.

There are several things you need to know about their day-to-day habits. Are they a shift worker? Have they recently taken up the drums? Will there be a rotating door of randoms or are they happy to keep to themselves?  Discussing the hours your tenant keeps will give you an idea of whether or not the setup will sink or swim.