The factors that make a good tenant can vary, based on the landlord and the individual renter. Few universal characteristics hold true - some pet owners are wonderful tenants; some quiet tenants are asking to be evicted. Since most property owners can't spend the time to really get to know each applicant, here are a list of the qualities they might watch for when renting out their homes. Find out if you are a desirable tenant, or if your application would raise warning flags. (Renting out your home can be a great way to ride out a real estate slump - if you do it right. Check out Top Tips For Successfully Renting Out Your Home.) TUTORIAL: Index Investing
Are You Employed?
It's an obvious one. Tenants that are stably and gainfully employed have the best chance of fulfilling a landlord's number one need: having the rent paid in full and on time. The best tenants will be secure in their employment, and earning enough to comfortably afford the rent – even in the event of unforeseen costs.
If you are a student, you will have to show proof of how you intend to pay your rent. Some landlords may prefer a student who has their parents paying rent over a recent graduate with an unstable employment situation.
Are You Single or a Couple?
If you are part of a couple where you are both employed, that means two income streams to rely on to pay the rent. However, having two tenants may increase costs may be included in your rent, such as water and power usage. How long you've been together may also factor into the decision. Couples that have been together consistently over a longer period of time are seen as more stable and less likely to have to end their lease due to a break up. For a young couple that is moving in together for the first time, that risk may be perceived to be higher.
How Old Are You?
Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. A young professional may be the quietest, most financially responsible tenant while an elderly tenant may constantly have loud family gatherings in their unit. You can't know for sure. However, as a general rule, older tenants are perceived to be less of a risk in terms of noise and skipping out on rent.
Are You a Pet Owner?
While many pet owners like to think their animal would never be any trouble, many landlords simply will not rent to people with pets. For responsible owners with well-trained animals, this is an unfortunate reality. Concerns your prospective landlord might have include damage to the unit, allergy concerns (in shared space), the safety of other tenants in the building, and noise complaints.
The number one rule for this situation is: don't lie. Sneaking Fido in on move-in day won't go over well, so you're better off coming clean and addressing the above concerns. Offer to let the landlord meet your furry friend, and detail the steps you will take to ensure there are no problems. Some landlords will charge a pet deposit that may be non-refundable, so be sure to include this in your housing budget. (Follow these nine steps to get a picture-perfect summer shack at a great price. See Tips For Renting A Vacation House.)
Why It Matters
Income properties can be a source of great cash and help to build equity. However, managing a rental property is a lot of work, and having the right (or wrong) tenants can mean the difference between making and losing money. For the would-be renter, finding a home is a lot of work. Once you've found the right location for the right price, you don't want to find yourself consistently being turned down. Make sure you have proof of employment (or at least proof of income), and be sure that you'll be able to get first and last and/or any security deposits right away.
The Bottom Line
No matter what, be honest on your application and with your potential landlord. Lying about having a pet, your need to practice the drums or how many people will be living there will only hurt you in the long run. Once you're in the rental, be sure to pay your rent on time, be courteous to your neighbors and keep things clean. (Here are three simple questions you should consider when weighing this decision. Refer to Retirement Living: Renting Vs. Home Ownership.)