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Rental Harmony: What Property Owners Want in Ideal Tenants

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Every landlord wants to find good tenants. Owning rental property is a business. Without good tenants who pay their rent and take care of the property, owners will lose money on their investments. 

There are good reasons for renters to be seen as good tenants, too. Being on good terms with the landlord can ensure they have a nice place to live for as long as they want to stay. 

Being a good tenant or a good landlord does not mean doing anything extraordinary. But there is more to the tenant-landlord relationship than just paying the rent on time or providing four walls and a roof over tenants’ heads. The keys are communication, cooperation, and common sense—for both tenants and landlords.

Key Takeaways

  • Property owners value tenants who respect the property and neighbors. This includes maintaining cleanliness, following noise regulations, and being mindful of common areas.
  • Clear and timely communication is a must. Landlords appreciate tenants who promptly notify them of any maintenance issues or lease inquiries.
  • High tenant turnover can be a headache. Landlords often prefer long-term tenants who are reliable and predictable.
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What Do Landlords Look For in Tenants?

Most landlords don’t allow just anyone to live in their rental properties. Usually, there are requirements and expectations that landlords look for before renting to someone. These factors can help determine whether a tenant is likely responsible, reliable, and a good fit for the property. Here are some of the things landlords typically look for in tenants. 

Solid Rental History

A solid rental history serves as a reliable indicator of a tenant’s past behavior and their likelihood of being a responsible occupant. Landlords often contact previous landlords to gather information about a tenant’s track record in terms of property maintenance, adherence to lease agreements, and payment punctuality. For instance, if a prospective tenant has a history of consistently paying rent on time and leaving the property in good condition, it instills confidence in the landlord’s decision to lease their property to them. 

Financial Stability

Financial stability is paramount for landlords seeking tenants who can reliably meet their rent obligations without financial strain. Tenants with steady employment and a consistent source of income are viewed favorably, as they are more likely to afford rent and other living expenses. Landlords may request proof of income or employment verification to assess a tenant’s financial stability. For example, a tenant with a stable job in a reputable company demonstrates a reliable income stream, reducing the risk of rental payment defaults. 


Personal and professional references offer landlords valuable perspectives on a tenant’s character, reliability, and suitability for rental housing. By contacting references from employers, previous landlords, or personal contacts, landlords gain insights into an applicant’s behavior, communication skills, and ability to maintain positive relationships. For instance, a glowing recommendation from a previous landlord attesting to a tenant’s responsible tenancy can significantly enhance their chances of securing rental housing.

Steady Employment

Steady employment is a crucial factor for landlords assessing a tenant’s ability to meet their financial obligations over the long term. Tenants with stable jobs or consistent sources of income demonstrate a reliable means of paying rent and other expenses associated with rental housing. For example, a tenant with a long-term employment history in a stable industry assures the landlord that they can sustain their rental payments even in the face of economic fluctuations. 

Background Check / Police Character Certificate

Although rarely done, a comprehensive background check or a police character certificate is a critical tool for landlords to assess the suitability of prospective tenants and mitigate potential risks to their property and other occupants. By conducting background checks, landlords can uncover any criminal history, eviction records, or past legal issues that may pose a threat to the rental property or its occupants. For example, a tenant with a history of property damage or violent behavior may be deemed unsuitable for rental housing and may face rejection of their application. 

Good Credit History

A positive credit history is indicative of responsible financial behavior and provides landlords with valuable insights into a tenant’s creditworthiness. Landlords in Nigeria are increasingly conducting credit checks to assess an applicant’s credit score and payment history, looking for signs of consistent bill payments and responsible debt management. A high credit score reflects a tenant’s ability to manage their finances effectively, instilling confidence in their ability to meet their rental obligations.

Importance of Selecting the Right Tenants

Choosing the right tenants is not just about filling vacancies; it’s about safeguarding your investment and fostering a positive rental experience for both parties involved. 

By selecting tenants who are responsible, reliable, and respectful, property owners can mitigate risks associated with property damage, late payments, and tenant disputes.

Mitigating Risks

Selecting responsible and reliable tenants is a proactive measure to mitigate potential risks associated with property damage, non-payment of rent, and lease violations. The right tenants contribute to a harmonious living environment and reduce the likelihood of legal disputes or conflicts.

Preserving Property Condition

Tenants who take pride in their living space and adhere to the lease terms are more likely to maintain the property in good condition. This not only preserves the aesthetic appeal of your investment but also minimizes the need for frequent repairs and renovations.

Ensuring Timely Rent Payments

The financial stability of tenants is a key consideration. Choosing tenants with a consistent income and strong creditworthiness enhances the likelihood of receiving rent payments on time. This, in turn, ensures a steady and reliable income stream for property owners.

Enhancing Property Value

The impact of tenant selection extends beyond the immediate term. Responsible and respectful tenants contribute positively to the property’s overall reputation. A well-maintained and respected property attracts like-minded tenants in the future, potentially increasing the property’s long-term value.

Fostering Positive Relationships

Establishing a positive landlord-tenant relationship begins with the tenant selection process. A respectful and communicative tenant can contribute to a cooperative and mutually beneficial association, making property management more enjoyable for both parties.

Impact of Tenant Selection on Property Value

The quality of tenants you choose can significantly influence the overall value and desirability of your rental property. Responsible tenants who pay rent on time, maintain the property and respect the terms of the lease contribute to a positive reputation for your property. 

Quality of Tenants

Tenants who are responsible, reliable, and respectful can significantly enhance the perceived value of your property. Their adherence to lease agreements, timely payment of rent, and conscientious maintenance of the property contribute to a positive reputation in the community and among future tenants.

Property Maintenance

High-quality tenants tend to take better care of the property they occupy. They are more likely to report maintenance issues promptly, perform minor upkeep tasks, and treat the property with respect. As a result, the property’s physical condition is preserved, maintaining its appeal and value over time.

Tenant Turnover and Vacancy Rates

Selecting tenants who intend to stay for the long term reduces turnover and vacancy rates. Lower turnover means fewer periods of vacancy, resulting in a more stable and consistent rental income stream. Additionally, reduced turnover minimizes the costs associated with advertising, screening, and preparing the property for new tenants.

Positive Reputation

Properties with a history of attracting responsible and reliable tenants develop a positive reputation within the rental market. This reputation can attract a higher caliber of tenants in the future and may even allow for premium rental rates, further enhancing the property’s value.

Investment Returns

Ultimately, the impact of tenant selection on property value translates into better investment returns for property owners. Properties with desirable tenants command higher rental rates, experience lower vacancy rates, and require less frequent maintenance and repairs, resulting in improved cash flow and overall investment performance.

The Qualities That Make You a Good Tenant

Selecting the right tenants involves a comprehensive evaluation process based on key criteria. Here are the fundamental aspects property owners consider when assessing potential tenants:

Paying Rent On Time

The first step in becoming the perfect tenant is paying rent on time. Paying rent on time and in full each month shows that you’re financially responsible and reliable. So, if you want to be a tenant your landlord trusts and can rely on, consider setting up reminders or automatic payments to ensure your rent is never late. Additionally, try to be prepared for potential financial disruptions so you always have enough to cover your rent payment.

Financial Responsibility

Being financially responsible means managing your finances well to cover your monthly rent and other living expenses. For instance, if you’re responsible for utilities, it’s important that you also budget for those. Additionally, you likely have other monthly expenses, like food, transportation, entertainment, and more. So, budget wisely, prioritize your bills, and have a financial cushion for unexpected expenses to ensure you can consistently meet your financial obligations. 

Keeping the Rental Clean

Another characteristic that makes the perfect tenant is maintaining a clean living space. After all, a clean space benefits you and preserves the property’s condition. So, make sure to regularly clean and tidy up your rental unit, report any pest issues immediately, and dispose of trash responsibly. 

Compliance With Lease Terms

It’s important to carefully read and understand your lease agreement and abide by all its terms and conditions. After all, when you sign a contract with your landlord, you’re legally obligated to follow it. This includes respecting rules regarding pets, subletting, and any restrictions on altering the property. 

Having Renters Insurance

Renters insurance protects your personal belongings in case of unexpected events like fire, theft, or accidents. So, another step to becoming the perfect tenant is getting renters insurance. Not only does it help you, but some landlords require it for their rental properties. It’s an essential safeguard and can also provide liability coverage if someone is injured in your rental unit. 

Being a Respectful Neighbor

Another sign that you’re the perfect tenant is if you’re a good neighbor. It’s important to maintain a peaceful and respectful living environment by being considerate of those who live around you. After all, you don’t want your neighbors to file complaints about your noise levels or lack of respect. So, keep noise levels down, especially during quiet hours, and respect their privacy and boundaries. 

Keeping Up With Maintenance

Just as it’s important to keep your rental property clean, it’s also crucial to keep up with regular maintenance. For instance, you’ll want to promptly report any maintenance issues or repairs to your landlord or property management. After all, proactive maintenance helps prevent minor issues from turning into major problems. 

Effective Communication

Another characteristic of the perfect tenant is effective communication. Clear and open communication with your landlord or property manager is crucial for maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship. So, report concerns, ask questions, and seek permission for any changes or improvements you wish to make to the property. 

Renewing Your Lease

If you plan to stay in a rental home for another term, communicate your intentions to renew the lease well in advance. Most landlords encourage a longer lease term, so if it works best for both of you, work out a mutually beneficial lease. This helps landlords plan and ensures you can continue to stay at the rental property without interruption. 

Knowledge of Tenant Rights

Awareness of tenant rights is essential for protecting yourself in the landlord-tenant relationship. Staying informed helps you stay aware of your legal obligations throughout your tenancy and helps you understand your rights in case something goes wrong. So, familiarize yourself with local housing laws, regulations, and your lease agreement to uphold your rights.

Legal Considerations in Tenant Selection

While Nigeria doesn’t have a single, comprehensive Fair Housing Act like some other countries, there are still protections against housing discrimination scattered throughout various laws and policies. Here’s a breakdown of some key points:


The Nigerian Constitution (1999)  recognizes the right to equality and non-discrimination (Article 17). This can be interpreted as providing some protection from housing discrimination based on factors like ethnicity, religion, or gender.

Tenancy Laws

Various states in Nigeria have their own Tenancy Laws that indirectly promote fair housing.  For instance, the Lagos State Tenancy Law focuses on fair rent practices and preventing arbitrary eviction, which can disproportionately affect vulnerable groups.

Anti-Discrimination Laws

There are specific laws against discrimination based on certain characteristics. The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities Act (2004) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including in access to housing.

Gender Equality

The National Gender Policy 2006 promotes equal rights and opportunities for women, which could apply to fair access to housing without gender-based discrimination.


The tenant selection process is a critical aspect of property management that significantly influences the success and sustainability of a rental property venture. 

Implementing property management strategies, including responsive maintenance and transparent communication, contributes to tenant satisfaction and long-term tenant relationships. Proactive property management not only preserves the property’s physical condition but also fosters a positive reputation within the rental market.


What qualities do property owners look for in ideal tenants in Nigeria?

Property owners in Nigeria typically look for tenants who demonstrate reliability, responsibility, and respect for the property. Ideal tenants pay rent on time, maintain the property in good condition, and adhere to the terms of the lease agreement. 

How can I increase my chances of being considered an ideal tenant by property owners in Nigeria?

To increase your chances of being considered an ideal tenant by property owners in Nigeria, focus on presenting yourself as a trustworthy and responsible renter. Provide references from previous landlords or employers to demonstrate your reliability and integrity. Be prepared to provide proof of stable income or employment and undergo background checks or credit screenings if required. 

What are some red flags that property owners watch out for when screening potential tenants in Nigeria?

Property owners in Nigeria watch out for red flags that may indicate potential problems or risks with prospective tenants. These include a history of late or missed rent payments, negative references from previous landlords, insufficient income to cover rent and living expenses, and a poor credit history or record of financial irresponsibility. 

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