Tenant screening is the most critical component of renting out your investment property. The type of tenant you choose will have a direct impact on your success as a landlord and your overall rental experience. It’s important to put a screening process in place that is rigorous and consistent. You must follow all fair housing guidelines and verify every detail of a prospective tenant’s application so you know exactly who you’re putting in your property.
These are some of the things we do when we’re screening tenants.
Checking Credit and Income
A credit check is important so you can see how responsible the potential tenant is with paying their bills on time. You don’t want to approve someone who has racked up a bunch of debt and is not making their payments. There may be some other warning signs that you don’t want to miss. Unpaid utility bills, for example, should be a cause for concern. You don’t need a tenant with perfect credit, but you do want to see a generally responsible person when it comes to finances.
Income is also important because you want to make sure the tenant can afford to pay rent. Verify income as well as employment by asking for pay stubs, tax records, or bank statements.
Check for Past Evictions
Do a thorough nationwide eviction check to see if there are any prior evictions in the applicant’s rental history. If you come across an eviction from 25 years ago and the applicant has otherwise demonstrated that he or she is a good tenant, you may not have to be concerned. However, if a tenant has been evicted multiple times or as recently as a year or two ago, it’s a sign that the applicant will most likely not fulfill the terms of the lease.
Establish the Tenant’s Rental History
Calling past landlords is very important in the screening process because you can find out lots of information on a tenant and the way they performed in previous homes. Ask the landlords if rent was paid on time, if there was any damage left behind, if the tenant had pets, and if they gave proper notice before moving out. These are important details, and make sure you do enough research to know that you’re actually talking to the landlord or the property manager. Tenants with a bad rental history may try to give you the contact information for friends and family members.
In addition to these things, you should do a criminal background check and ask for identification so you can be sure your tenant’s identity matches what comes back on your screening reports. Make sure you screen every application the same. Consistent procedures will ensure you’re in compliance with fair housing laws.
With a good tenant, you’ll collect rent on time and have a reliable, responsible person helping you maintain your property. With a bad tenant, you’re putting yourself at risk for eviction and property damage. If you have any questions about tenant screening, please contact us at A+ Realty Management.