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What is a professional renter and how can I avoid them?

by Rhenti on

Most renters mean well; they move in, pay rent on time, and have an overall positive relationship with their landlords. Professional renters, however, are a different story.

These are people who treat renting like a game, seeing how much they can get away with (and how little they can pay) before being evicted and moving on to their next target.

Today we’re breaking down who these people are, the damage they can cause, and how to spot them—ideally before they ever set foot inside your property.

Professional renters: who they are, the damage they cause, and how to avoid them

What is a professional renter (a.k.a professional tenant)?

Professional renters, also known as professional tenants, are people who use legal loopholes in the rental system to scam landlords out of rent, repairs, and other costs. These types of renters will often withhold paying rent over small issues, and when a landlord attempts to evict them, respond with counterclaims to slow down the legal process and continue living in the property without paying rent. 

The unfortunate thing is this is just one of the many ways tenants scam landlords.


How damaging can a professional renter be to a property?

The damage caused by professional renters can range from annoying to destructive and affect everything from your finances to your mental and physical health.

For example, professional renters may constantly pay rent late or partially, always just enough or just in time to avoid legal repercussions. On the more serious side of the spectrum, they may stop paying rent altogether, making it difficult for the landlord to keep up with their own bill payments (i.e. mortgage). 

In cases where you do try to evict professional renters, they’ll often file counterclaims and do everything in their power to slow the eviction princess and drown you in legal fees. Not to mention the potential effects on your other tenants who may live with or next to these professional renters. 


Some signs that someone may be a professional renter:

Firstly, just because someone shows one or two of the following signs doesn’t automatically mean they’re a professional renter. However, many signs together, especially if repeated, are more of a cause for concern. 

With that said, below are some common signs you may be dealing with a professional renter:

  • The history of where they have lived has unexplained gaps, broken lease agreements, and evictions
  • Legal gripes with previous landlords
  • Bad credit score or debt that has gone to collections
  • Phony references
  • Bad references
  • They constantly pay rent late
  • They move frequently
  • Minimal employment references
  • Prefer to pay with cash (to avoid a paper trail)
  • Tendency to heavily blame previous landlords for events that have gone wrong

What should I do to avoid professional renters?

Carefully screening applicants is the best thing you can do to avoid professional renters. This largely comes down to getting documents and references to prove identity, income, credit, criminal background, and rental history.

This includes:


Asking questions, either in person or over the phone, is also useful in screening people. Conversations can let you know more about details they’ve provided and any holes in their stories. 


Through this screening process, you significantly decrease your chances of ending up with a professional renter.


Choose the right renters with Rhenti

Armed with this information, you now hopefully have a better idea of how to avoid professional renters. 

For an even stronger defence, use Rhenti. From credit checks, employment docs, and references, Rhenti's unified marketing automation and transaction tools provide full visibility into each applicant, so you can feel confident about renting your property.

Sign up for Rhenti today.


The blog posts on this website are for the purpose of general introductory information. They can’t serve as an opinion or professional advice. Speak to a professional before making decisions related to your circumstances.

Discover more property owner insight at Rhenti blog