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  • Daniel Rodriguez

Qualities landlords want in a tenant

Landlords in California have a lot of work to do. Ultimately, they want tenants who are going to mean as little work for them as possible. This means someone they can trust to pay the rent on time, won’t damage the property and won’t cause issues with the other tenants. Of course, landlords can’t know the future, but they can look into the past of potential tenants to seek out patterns.

For potential tenants, this means opening themselves up to a fair amount of scrutiny. As part of the rental screening application tenants can expect a credit check, rental history check, criminal background check and employment and income verification. In areas with fewer renters, the expectations are lower. In highly competitive rental markets, which are common in California, the expectations are often higher.

Rental history

A missed rental payment doesn’t always show up on a credit report. Landlords may do more research to learn if you’ve ever faced eviction, missed payments or damaged property. They may also want to know how long you’ve been a renter and if you’ve ever broken a lease. Renters who stay at a place longer are more desirable because it means less turnover for landlords. Showing that previous landlord/tenant matters have been positive interactions can make a tenant more desirable, so references from previous landlords can go a long way.

Criminal background

Landlords typically perform criminal background checks. If they decide to ask for a larger security deposit or decline an application because of something in the background check they have to give you reasons why.

Credit history

Credit history is a big part of landlord/tenant considerations when it comes to applications. Higher scores set applicants apart. In a low-competition area, a score of 600 may be fine. In a competitive rental landscape, 720 is much more desirable. In your full credit report, landlords often want to see a low amount of debt and a lack of late or missed payments.


It is common for landlords to want tenants who earn three times the rental amount, before taxes. There are some landlords who will accept two and a half times the rent. Lower-income earners can help offset this by offering a larger security deposit or getting a cosigner.

Rental applications can feel invasive. At the end of the day, landlords want to see responsible tenants who will make their business easy to run.

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