Q: Should I rent to a tenant with past evictions?

tenants with evictions

Chris V. asks:  I realize it’s normal for a tenant’s financial history to include some minor red flags, but what should I do when a prospective tenant has decent credit, but a history of past evictions?

RAG answers: You’re right to be cautions about renting to a prospective tenant with an eviction in his or her past. You’re well within your legal rights to refuse to rent to past evictees, and you’d be wise not to rent to someone who has been evicted more than once.

However, if your prospective tenant has a single eviction several years in the past, and has since developed and maintained good credit, built a stable employment history, and has more than enough monthly income to qualify for your rental, you could reasonably decide to rent to this individual.

If you decide to move forward, there are several steps you can take to lower your financial risk:

  1.  Ask for first and last month’s rent up front. In the event that you have to evict a tenant for non-payment, the process can take a month or two to complete, and that’s assuming everything goes smoothly. By requiring last month’s rent up front, you have at least some insurance against the lost income you’ll suffer during the process.
  2. Require the tenant to pay rent via Direct Debit. With your money scheduled to come directly out of your tenant’s bank account at a certain time each month, you’re much more likely to receive payment in full, on time, when rent is due.
  3. Thoroughly check references. This probably goes without saying, but when a prospective tenant has a shaky financial history, taking the time to call all of his or her references is especially important. You want confirmation that this tenant has indeed gotten his or her financial life in order before you sign a lease agreement.