As you review applications make sure you get a credit report. Depending on where you get your report the cost can vary from a couple dollars to $20+. The difference is often just the provider but there are also differences. Some are easier to read than others. Some have credit scores and others include criminal backgrounds. You need to choose what you want to see and how much you want to pay.
A credit report tells a lot about a person. One of the first thing I look for is alias names and addresses. If there are alias names I am very leery. They may be legitimate but they often mean that the person is hiding from somebody or something and it usually isn’t good. If the addresses don’t line up with their ID that is also a big red flag. Where are they really living?
Take a look at their outstanding debt level and their delinquency balance next. Are they swimming in debt and are they paying on it? Next look at what trades they have and the ratings history. I don’t count medical bills at all. In the past I didn’t count college loans but I am starting to put weight on them now. I put credit cards, banks, and other items in a pattern category – do they pay their bills or not. Utilities are weighted heavily because on top of a payment pattern, they may not be able to get utilities turned on in their name. Last but the most important are landlord charges. If there is a landlord charge off, it is a no brainer.
Look at the overall picture. Is this someone that you want to deal with and let in your property? Remember that everyone with bad credit isn’t a bad tenant. It is only part of the picture.