The Best And Worst Types Of Tenants

Best And Worst Types Of Tenants

The thing about finding good tenants is that it’s all about odds.

Granted, that means we have to be one presumptuous son-of-a-bitch and actually play the game of odds. For example, the odds of getting trouble from an employed professional worker compared to an unemployed-bum is extremely slim. Of course, that won’t always be the case, but intuition and common sense suggests that it will likely be the outcome.

Nope, that’s not going to go down well with many people. But what can we do?

In some cases, it may even be worth keeping a property vacant longer than planned, just to get the shoes filled with the idealistic tenants (if there is such a thing). Often, landlords make the fatal mistake of failing to screen their tenants rigorously, voiding due diligence, because they want their property filled as quickly as possible, which often means accepting the first applicant that shows interest, which obviously isn’t always the best choice!

There’s nothing completely wrong with that (although, there is a lot wrong with it), it can end up well, but if that’s the case, there needs to be a certain gratitude towards good fortune, because the odds of that happening are stacked against all landlords.

Right, so I’ve put together a list of common tenancy statuses, ordered by desirability (red hot being the most desirable). I haven’t covered all possible scenarios because the list could be potentially endless, but I think I’ve covered quite a bit of ground.

Please note, I’m basing this list on personal experience, generalisations and errmmm… common sense *cough* As I’ve mentioned several times, it’s all about odds. Let me know how it compares to your list…

Couple Tenant Established couple,
Both employed
This is by far the most desirable tenancy status. Established couples (together for at least 5yrs) are more durable than newly established couples. Both are employed meaning two avenues of income. I’m always aiming to grab me a bag full of tenants in this situation.
Old Single Tenant Single,
Employed/Good Pension/Good Benefits,
I hate to be ageist, but unfortunately it’s the way of the world. An elderly individual is typically tame and accommodating- they just want a simple life. I currently have 2 tenants that come under this status- I’ve never had a problem!
Employed Couple Tenant Established couple,
One working professional
For the reason mentioned already- established couples are durable. Stability is highly desirable as it signifies responsibility and commitment. It’s not ideal that only one person out of the two is employed, but it isn’t the end of the world. And with one being a professional worker, there’s little chance of any financial breakdown.
Single Employed Tenant Single,
employed as professional
“Employed professional” employment status is key, because you know they carry some sense of intelligence and earn enough to pay the bills. So why does “single and employed” rank lower than “couple and one employed”? Simple, the professional, single worker has less of a commitment, so may find it easier to walk away.
Couple Employed Fresh couple,
Both employed
New couples are always looking to take things to the next stage in their relationship, and what better way to show commitment than living under the same roof? Obviously, it’s a good thing that they’re both employed. But newly formed couples have a high separation rate. I hate to admit it, but even a few of my friends have broken up with their partners and caused problems for landlords.
Couple Employed Tenant Fresh couple,
One employed
Now we’re really starting to creep into the danger zone. Anyone thinking about taking on this kind of tenancy status likes to live on the edge. As mentioned, newly formed couples have a high break up rate. And with only one being employed, it’s easy for them to fall into financial crisis.
Single Employed Tenant Young,
With an average labouring job and no sense of commitment, it’s extremely easy for a tenant to go AWOL.
DSS Tenant Single/Couple,
Reliant on social benefits (DSS)
I personally wouldn’t go this low down the chain, because I’ve been there and it’s been nothing but trouble. DSS tenants are not worth the hassle. And let me clarify, it has nothing to do with the individuals on benefits themselves, it’s more to the point how badly the government handles DSS tenants for landlords. For further details on why I think DSS tenants suck, go here DSS Tenants And The Council.
Student Tenant Student(s) In popular student cities landlords are making a killing with letting property to students but they come with their fair share of stress. Most students go to University for one reason, and it sure as hell ain’t to learn. The odds of finding respectable students that will pay the bills on time and look after your property aren’t great. Secondly, with students, the landlord is usually required to actually make regular inspections just to make sure the walls are still standing. Thirdly, students typically change accommodation on an annual basis, meaning they’re short-term solutions.
Unemployed DSS Tenant Single/couple,
No benefits, no job, and no hope. Forget about it.

20 Join the Conversation...

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Alan Blacksmith 1st March, 2009 @ 04:19

I don't think my responsibility as a landlord is only to take care of my economic interests, but I belive I should take care of society as well since I am part of it.

If I refuse to accept students, singles, or the unemployed then who is going to provide them with a home? Some of them may end up homeless, and if I see a homeless person in the street I will be thinking that I am part of this social problem. I don't like this, so I don't refuse people based on stereotypes.

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shan maih 7th July, 2009 @ 22:01

yep shit happens i agree its not easy being lanlord esp wen they block the toilet mess with rent etc.things dont go according plan. reading from your tips and article you have to be a lucky son of a bitch like you. to have a good tenats who pay rent on time is the best friend of lanlord and thats the most difficult part of tennancy searching for one even if you do find one you still have to keep your finger cross. finding that whether tenant is working or not working is not question the main thing is your providing them a roof over their heads the best ones deserve the best from you

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Peter 6th February, 2010 @ 11:15

Well, when I was put in a horrible life situation, and I had to deal with a landlord, I fell under "Established couple One working professional" category, though guess what I sued the Landlord for Damages when they "added the unit" and I could smell paint! You guys better off with Ignorant, above all. You are Parasites nothing else. Beware of People.

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somebody 31st August, 2010 @ 20:59

Your list is utter hogwash, based on flimsy stereotypes that don't hold up in real life. Students don't go to school to learn? Bullshit. You may THINK they all go to party, but take your greedy stereotyping cap off for a minute and do some research; you'll find that partying isn't as prevelant as you'd think.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 31st August, 2010 @ 23:03

Calm down. Everything is going to be ok. There's one easy way to prove I'm right and you're wrong (and you're acting like a wheeping bitch for no reason).

If you were a landlord (I'm assuming you're not), and you had a choice between these 3 types of tenants:

1: students
2: a couple, both working professionals (doctors)
3: an unemployed male receiving benefits

Rearrange that list in order of desirability. Most desirable being first.

The order would be 2,1,3, correct? Every sane landlord on the planet would choose that order. That's all I'm really saying here. I'm not saying it's an exact science, and I'm not saying the professionals will never cause more problems than the unemployed. I'm just saying the odds are the unemployed would make worse tenants :)

Yeah, so actually, I'm right, you're wrong, and you're crying over nothing.

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Twattybollocks 1st September, 2010 @ 08:36

@somebody - what planet are you on? Of course they all go to party.

OK some party more than others but they all do it especially in the first and second years. I went to Uni (poly) SPECIFICALLY to party and happened to get a qualification at the end and I know I am not the only one so before you start harping on about doing some research I suggest you do the same.

I suggest you go to any UNI town between now and Christmas and tell me there is not partying going on!


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Eileen Dover 22nd February, 2011 @ 10:12

My daughter is a single mum with a part-time job. She is on income support, but she is the best tenant. I hope I get a tenant like her. She keeps her two-bedroomed house spotless, she has decorated, and shampooed all her carpets. She pays her rent on time. Her landlord wanted to increase her rent this year but, because she is such a good tenant, he reduced the increase.

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Pramila Devi 5th June, 2011 @ 05:22

On 01.06.2011, it gave to us in writing that the premises has been vacated on 31 May 2011 but despite our representatives sitting there for two days it did not hand over the vacant posession of the said premises due to obvious reasons.Therefor, l;andlords beware of the Central Bank of India as tenant.

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Pramila Devi 5th June, 2011 @ 05:57

Central Bank of India is the worst tenant among the PSU banks. People are cautioned not to lease their premises to the Central Bank of India for any purpose lest not only they even their generaTIONS WOULD REPENT. First of all they would never give you fair rent nor would maintain the premises in satisfactory condition and thirdly they would never vacate your premises even if they do not have any office or branch in that premises. In fact the central bank of india is builder mafia forcibly occupying the premises of poor landlords.In 1941 my father in law let out a prime property admeasuring 3800 sq. ft. at Chowk (opp. chowk police station)to Central Bank of India for opening its chowk branch. Despite repeated efforts and law, the Bank did not increase the monthly rent from Rs. 437.50. Not only this it also did not pay electricity dues, house tax and water tax in respect of the above premises despite agreement for the same. The employees have stolen antique wooden doors from the premises and the Bank is contemplating to take away the iron room built by us.On 01.06.2011, it gave to us in writing that the premises has been vacated on 31 May 2011 but despite our representatives sitting there for two days it did not hand over the vacant posession of the said premises due to obvious reasons.Therefor, l;andlords beware of the Central Bank of India as tenant.

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natasha 23rd October, 2011 @ 23:56

I was wondering if anyone had any experience of embassy staff rentals. I have a reasonably high worth property in very good condition and it is of interest to someone from an embassy where money is no object. But i believe I may have heard mutterings that embassy staff wreck houses and are then impossible to evict to boot. Feedback most welcome.

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susan 21st October, 2014 @ 12:36

I am a landlord, and have tenants ranging from elderly to unemployed single mother, and they are all good tenants, paying rent on time, and keeping the property clean.

So I don't think it really matters what category a tenant is in. Overall, its an individual who will matter and not necessarily the circumstances.

oh, I also had most trouble from the employed couple. All the DSS were exemplary.

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Bill 15th June, 2015 @ 22:40


How do you rank a person who is not working, but with lots of savings. Enough savings to pay pay rent for 1 year and live comfortably without any income. I have such an applicant. BTW he is also looking for work. He appears to be an intelligent, mature, sensible professional person. He has the kind of personality I like in a tenant. He has shown me proof of savings.

What do landlords think?

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Benji 16th June, 2015 @ 08:21


"What do landlords think?"

Where do the savings come from?
Is the proof genuine?
Can they be ring fenced?
Will I inadvertently create a 6 or 12 month periodic tenancy if I take rent up front?
Could rent up front be classed as a deposit, leaving me liable for a 3 times claim?
What happens when the savings are used up?
Do the savings take them over the benefits threshold?
Do they have any dependants?
What will they be doing all day?
Is the property suitable for the extra wear and tear of a 24/7 tenant living there?
Do they have an ulterior motive? Could the property be used for illegal activities?
Could they be using it for subletting?
Why are they out of work?
What is their profession?
How long have they been looking for work?
What is their employment history?
What is their credit check like?
How well have they been running their bank account?
Can I get rent guarantee insurance?
Do they have a guarantor?
Do they have any other assets?
Do they comply with the terms of my mortgage and insurance?
What do their previous landlords say?
Have they got an easily traceable history?
What is their background like?
Why are they moving?
What is the state of their current property?
How long do they intend staying?
Is this a carefully planned move or symptomatic of a chaotic lifestyle?
What are their views on society, housing, landlords?
If this all goes tits-up, how difficult would it be to get rid of them and what would be the cost?
What are the chances of enforcing a court judgement against them in the future?

"What do landlords think?"

Why bother? Plenty of straightforward tenants to choose from.

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Bill 16th June, 2015 @ 13:00

Hi Benji

Many thanks for your well thought out repy.

Obviously you would not favour a currently unemployed person with lots of savings over an employed person with little or no savings. By little savings, I mean not enough money to pay the rent for a year should they loose their job.

My applicant is age 40, divorced, no kids, money is from house sale in Scotland. He spent the last year traveling around the world. He is a teacher trying to move to London to get work.

I've seen his two degrees. Proof of savings is genuine. I don't plan to take the whole rent up front. Just charge him monthly rent as I would any tenant/lodger. His savings would not allow him to claim full housing benefit. I never use rent guarantee insurance. He does not have a guarantor. He intends to stay for a minimum of 1 year. I've not checked employment history, credit rating or his (one) previous landlord yet, but I will.

I'm a live in landlord. I have 2 studios let to tenants and a lodger lives with me. The applicant is happy with either. In terms of personality, the applicant comes across as articulate, grown-up and friendly. He is easily top of the list in terms of character/personality.

I can't see a problem with him. Which I value your opinion. Any further thoughts you have would be very welcome.

Thanks again

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Benji 16th June, 2015 @ 17:03


As you would be living with them, it changes things considerably.

I would have no hesitation taking him on as a lodger. Months rent in advance by standing order. Make it clear from the start, no excuses, next day eviction for non payment.

Taking him on as a tenant I would be a lot more cautious. The possibility of them not paying rent for more than six months and having to see them every day would try the patience of anyone.

I would take them on as a lodger initially and if they get a secure job, then offer them a tenancy.

Out of interest, why do you never use rent guarantee insurance? I don't always use it but I make very sure I know what I'm getting in to if I don't have it.

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Roger 3rd August, 2015 @ 20:46

Stereotypes are not fair, but they sure do save time. Great article, and spot on.

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Marky 30th December, 2015 @ 08:19

I have interest from a couple, with 2 kids. One is a part time office worker (who could go full time) and the other is a jobbing builder (self employed). Joint earnings are about £20K, so they should be able to pay £650 a month. They have a good rental record with a housing association, but want a nicer area and a bigger house.
I've said I'll reference them via open rent (thanks for that tip for finding tenants. So far lots of interest) and see if they need a guarantor.
My gut feel is they will not risk their kids having to move to "beruit" and will find the rent whatever happen to them.

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AMC 29th February, 2016 @ 11:02

This list is totally accurate.
@Bill: I rented to someone once who had "investments" and those investments went south and she ended up asking to be let out of the lease b/c she couldn't afford the rent.

@the people who've posted on here whining about the stereotypes: you people are obviously NOT landlords.

Landlords provide a service by providing housing to those who do not and / or cannot own their own home. W/o our rental properties people would be hard-pressed to find a place to live. We invest enormous amounts of $$ into our properties and basically gamble every time we hand keys over to a new tenant. Being a landlord is risky and definitely not for the faint of heart.

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Alex H. 14th November, 2019 @ 18:55

I wonder where does the family come into the picture as prospective tenants??? Everybody seems to drool over young professionals in terms of renting but what if the 2 young professionals become a family what then? Even though one of them might be at home with the kids for a period of time taking care of the kids and not working are they not more likely to offer even more stability? Because even a couple that has been together for over 5 years can split up precisely because the relationship did not take the usual natural (yes we are genetically programmed to procreate :-) course of life in which the couple gets married and eventually becomes a family that might still need to rent with small children because as a young family they might not be able to afford a house straight away. And by actually being married and having kids it effectively does not become as easy to split up anymore. Also having kids means they are highly motivated to provide because they have to, so they are even more likely to responsibly pay rent on time. Am I too old fashioned thinking the society (meaning all of us really) should support couples to become families rather than prefer people to be childless professionals forever??? Seems to be the case at work, on the renting market, in terms of taxes, everywhere really... Is it not a bit sad and definitely not a sustainable way of living and doing things? We should all try more to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. As landlords and tenants, as workers and managers, as voters and most importantly as customers because we vote with our purses every time we make any decision or purchase really whether we realize it or like or not. Just a thought :-)

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sophie 16th June, 2020 @ 13:16

Your article never references children. Or do you just throw them out with the bath water? Are families are expected to live in the gutter? I prefer couples with children because they are fighting to ensure their children will thrive in a stable environment.

















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