Choosing a Tenant: What Makes an Applicant the Perfect Candidate to Rent Your Apartment?

As an apartment owner, you may have thought, “How do I determine who will be the most reliable renters?” Or you might be wondering, “Why do I need to choose the best tenants?” Well, choosing the right tenants will give you peace of mind that they will pay on time, respect your time and property, and be honest with you about everything. We’ve created criteria to choose the perfect multifamily tenant by properly assessing an applicant.


First, the applicant must be responsible. The ideal applicant is organized and caring, must know how to keep their books balanced, and have rent day on their calendar.  Okay, but how do you determine if they’re responsible?

When assessing the applicant, always use objective data, because making assumptions can lead to a loss of applicants quickly. When you start basing the responsibility of your applicant on their appearance, cleanliness of their car, or by looking around their social media, you risk losing many qualified applicants through this type of high-liability vetting. Why? Because applicants may require to eat in their car for work, or need time to be alone during a rush hour and the only place to do so is their car.   

You must keep a clear and focused mind to find the actual determinants of whether the tenant is responsible; for example, steady jobs despite the highs and lows of the economy, staying in one home for longer than average. These determinants are very helpful to indicate whether the applicants will be steady tenants or if they show some red flags.     


Determining whether someone is honest during a quick assessment is very challenging. When meeting an applicant, listen to your gut feelings. Many times, applicants will tell you about a previous situation they had with property managers where they were unable to pay rent or had a problem with management and whether or not they resolved it, which can give you a lot of important information.

Occasionally applicants will share and take responsibility by telling you how they dealt with the situation, and if so, these candidates are more likely to be transparent. When you call their reference property manager, you can find out if they are making excuses, or if they were honest about a problem and their minimal inconvenience resolution. You want a tenant that won’t make up stories and excuses to try and lie their way out of paying rent. 

Everyone has hardships and people make mistakes from time to time, but transparency can go a long way in proving your applicant has integrity and is more likely to be an honest renter.

No (Limited) Criminal History

This one is a bit more tricky.  Of course you would like to say, “I have no criminals living at my properties,” because you want your properties to be safe and happy, but simply having a criminal conviction doesn’t mean the applicant could be a threat to your property and residents.  

Best practices recommend leaving out generalized deviant behavior and focusing on more specific examples of the kind of criminal history to avoid. 

For example, sexual offenders and those on the sex offender registry, those convicted of property damage, and offenders with a history of violence.

Finding the perfect resident can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible. First, finding someone who displays themselves honestly and has a non-violent past clear of relevant offenses is a great start.  After doing diligent research to make sure they fall into these categories, you can find out if they are reliable and responsible. 

Knowing what you definitely don’t want, and having a general idea of what you do is as great a start as any.

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