Statistics on low-income renters

This question goes out to Propertymanager and anyone else with significant rental holdings.

What is the percentage of “problem” tenants that you have dealt with? By problem, I mean someone that you wished had never come your way. Is that number 10%? I know proper screening can eliminate a lot of the scum, but I am just curious.


Not very many bad tenants get through, but I had one house last spring I screened over 125 applicants before I found one who was qualified.

All those 125 bad tenants went somewhere and some landlord took them.

I just filled a vacancy yesterday that was vacant for almost 3 months. Plenty of applicants, just no one who was capable of actually paying rent. And all those rejects are livng somewhere. Some landlord took them, and every one of them is going to be a problem.

In a good market with lots of good applicants, about 6 % would be OK to take and only 3 out of 100 will pass my screening. In a bad market, the percentage of decent tenants is much smaller.

My definition of a good tenant is one who pays rent on time without being reminded, who lives clean and doesn’t do damage, and who is pleasant and reasonable to deal with. I like tenants who call immediately when something needs to be repaired, and I fix stuff immediately. Many landlords do not like tenants who call for service, so your definition of a good tenant might not be the same as mine.

The lower the rent is, the worse the applicant pool who will slither out of the slime and try to trick you into renting to them.

Of the tenants who I accept, very few ever cause any problems. It’s rare for me to make any deductions from the deposit (although, it seems to get more common as each year goes by)

My biggest problem with tenants is that they move around so darn much. If I get 2-3 years between vacancies, I am thrilled.

I know propertymanager said he evicts 1% per month despite heavy screening.

I had to evict one tenant in the last two years out of 32 units. I agree with Tatortot I would rather sit on a vacany then to rent to the wrong person. Screen, Screen, Screen and also trust your gut!. Even with years of experience and tools sometimes you get stung. OUCH.

Occasionally good tenants develop problems that are unexpected. We had to lose a good tenant that rented from us for over 15 yrs,because of a personal financial problem on her part. 1% is reasonable. Most larger apartment complex’s give a 5% to 10% vacancy rate margin before the … hits the fan.

I have a question for the experienced landlord. Would it make financial sense to offer some kind of yearly incentive for paid rent on time, no damage and etc? I understand that you should not HAVE to reward tenants for paying their rent on time and etc BUT do you think this could work? I mean, a hundred bucks at the end of the year as a trade off for not moving out unexpectedly, paying rent on time, taking better care of the place and such seems like it could be rewarding for the landlord, if it should work. If it doesn’t, they don’t earn their ‘reward’ and no money is lost. However, I think this kind of marketing scheme may be worth a shot for some tenants as a hundred dollars around Christmas is a LOT of incentive to keep in mind. Do you think programs like these would be beneficial or not? This kind of thing does not necessarily have to be a cash handout either. I would think that having programs like these would also bring a lot more attention to your rentals and attract much more clients.

I’ve never tried rewards, so can’t say for sure.

I know that it works to offer a discount every month if the rent is paid on time (but not with every tenant)

Who knows. If you have a lot of tenants, perhaps it might work to put the name of everyone who is on time into a drawing and give a monthly prize.

I think that all that happens with either of those programs is that the people who pay on time would have paid on time, anyway. The people who don’t pay on time, aren’t going to pay on time just for a reward. With a lot of them, even the threat of being homeless won’t motivate them to pay on time.

My thought on a year end award is that it is too far away to have meaning, and most tenants do not see any connection between their own behavior and what happens to them. Most of them do not think in terms of a year in advance.

The deposit back should be a huge “reward” at the end of the tenancy. Instead, tenants tear stuff up anyway and then get ticked off that there are deductions from the deposit for the holes they punched into the walls.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that if you offered $100 reward at the end of the year for a year of on time payments that the tenants would still pay late and then be really mad at the end of the year that you refused to give them their $100 that you promised them.

Yes. You can offer a kitty for future home purchase or allow them to earn credit towards upgrades to the unit.

Early rental discounts or rebates encourage on time payments and are great for that purpose. They don’t encourage clean living habits and are illegal in several states.

Would it make financial sense to offer some kind of yearly incentive for paid rent on time,

As a matter of fact, I offer a monthly incentive to pay the rent on time. If they pay on time, I don’t evict them.


In my experience, about 90% of the tenants are very good tenants. They don’t cause any trouble at all, take relatively good care of the property, and pay the rent on time without prompting. Another 9% of tenants are not ideal and are some irritation. Finally, 1% don’t pay the rent on time or are involved in illegal activities and need to be evicted.


When I was an active landlord I tried incentives for being good and timely payments and really found it didn’t make a difference. What I found was important was screening carefully, only renting to the right people, then making sure I was strictly impartial in requiring everybody, including myself, to follow the rules.

If someone was late they got a late notice the 2d. If they went past the 5 days waiting I had on the contract they got a 3-day Pay or Quit on the 6th. If I ever found a problem with their tenancy - not taking care of the yard, etc - they got a notice. If they came to me ahead of time and asked for me to take their rent a little late, or in a couple of payments I normally did, although everything was documented so they could not play legal games with whether rent was paid or not. And I learned never to allow anyone to enter one of my properties before they had paid their deposit.

In short, follow the rules and insist your tenants follow the rules. Use just enough common sense to have a small amount of flexibility when needed.

What PM says is my experience too. 90% are fine. 8-9% are trouble. 1-2% require eviction.

Thanks for all of the replies! My research is correct for “problem tenants”. It looks like I am going to take the leap and become a landlord once again. I have 3 very promising SF houses that I have a shot at. If I get any of them, I will let you guys know.


I read somewhere a long, long time ago that there can be some legal ramifications to this…If the rent’s $500 and you accept $450 for on time payments, it’s equivalent to a $50 late fee when the rent’s late, which is 11% ($50/$450)…Over 10% (sometimes over 5%) is illegal in some localities so you have to be careful that you’re not running an illegal lease which may get you in twubble in court…

Cant’ find the quote now, but I doubt most lower level tenants would be able to think a year in advance for getting a $100 discount…I don’t see where that would help you at all…

Gotta love the no nonsense approach!..Mike, if you ever run for Prez let me know…I’ll buy up all the stock in the USA I can…

Gotta love the no nonsense approach!...Mike, if you ever run for Prez let me know...I'll buy up all the stock in the USA I can...

I don’t want to be President - I want to be the CZAR! My first act will to to send all the deadbeats, socialists, and low-life, scumbag legal aid lawyers and contingency lawyers to CUBA!



You are correct that different areas have different rules and laws dealing with renting and leasing. Whenever you go about leasing in a local you are not familiar with, it is imperitive to contact a good, local real estate attorney to check your proposed contracts, and explain to you if there are any local twists to landlord-tenant rights, eviction proceedings, etc, for that community. It not only changes from state to state but it can also change from county to county and city to city.

Many investors try to go cheap here and just use a lease you get from an office supply store or downloaded from some web site, to their later regret. You have a property woth thousands of dollars. it makes nothing but sense to spend a few hundred to get the legalities straight before hand. It will be a few hundred now, or thousands later. I always chose doing it right the first time.

Great advise Salverston, It is imperitive to have a copy of all current tenant, landlord law for your local area. As far as insentives Mike as always you are right on the money. Tenants incentive should be keeping a roof over there heads. I have worked for some large investment companys that offered upgrades as thank you gifts for lease renewal to tenants that paid on time. IN reality these gifts were to maintain the value of the unit. The tenants with less then average payment or performance history usually did not recieve a renewal offer anyways.

I’m curious if the screening process should mean an automatic decline if they have a recent eviction on their record.

If they’ve obtained employment since their eviction and can show an income level of 3 x the rent amount, should they be considered? I’m mainly asking about relatively low income properties (i.e. houses for $25K to $35K), so these folks are not going to have stellar financial backgrounds.

I'm curious if the screening process should mean an automatic decline if they have a recent eviction on their record.

YES, YES, YES!!! :bobble :bobble :bobble :bobble

If they’ve ripped off another landlord, they’ll rip you off also. I don’t take excuses! If they (or anyone else that will be living there) have been evicted in the past 5 years, I won’t take them!


No evictions!

If they’ve stolen from their prior landlord, they will steal from you.

They don’t have an evcition on their record unless they dug in and refused to move out until the sheriff threw them out. They didn’t pay and they got a lawyer and fought against paying and against moving to the botter end.

In addition, once they go through an eviction or two, they learn some nasty tricks to enable them to stay even longer without paying any rent.

Decent people pack up and move when they don’t have any money for rent. They don’t baracade themselves inside and refuse to move. out.

I guess that answers that. I’ve got a 2 bedroom house that a gal already wants to give me a deposit on before even having seen it. I’ve already checked her out, and she has an eviction from about one year ago. I was talking to her on the phone today, and she glossed over this time period saying “something happened.” I had to smile!

Buh-bye! :flush

Hint: any tenant that is eager to give you a deposit before they have even seen your place is a tenant who is being rejected all over town. They are desperate to get a place and will take any place at all.