Property Management

Tenant screening 101: Best practices for finding quality renters

By September 19, 2023 January 17th, 2024 No Comments

Tenant screening is an integral component of renting property. It protects you, your clients, and the home itself from damage that might cause irreparable harm to any structures on your rental properties. In addition, screening helps ensure that tenants get along well with one another – both essential considerations when renting real estate.

A successful tenant screening process should be impartial and should include clear criteria that will help you select the ideal tenant for your property. Here are some of the things you should consider with tenant screening.

Best Practices for Tenant Screening 101

1. Get a good application

Landlords know the tenants are integral components of their rental property business, as successful rentals depend on great tenants to generate profits while bad tenants will spend time chasing rent payments and dealing with property damage caused by irresponsible tenants.

Undergoing an intensive application review process is one of the best ways to increase confidence that an applicant meets your rental qualifications. Proving their income, conducting background checks, and determining if pets and smoking are allowed are all crucial parts of screening for quality renters.

However, it’s important not to judge an applicant too quickly; criminal records from years ago may no longer be relevant, and applicants should be given the chance to provide more details of their background and explain themselves.

2. Ask for references

Landlords conducting tenant reference checks can glean valuable insight about applicants from speaking to both professional and personal references. By speaking with these references, landlords can learn if the tenants pay rent on time, damage property, or cause issues for other tenants in the building.

Interacting with an applicant’s previous landlords can be invaluable as this enables landlords to identify any concerning behaviors that might not come through other screening processes, such as late payments or broken leases – red flags that should be taken seriously by landlords.

Landlords should take caution not to violate fair housing laws by asking any questions that might appear discriminatory. Establishing consistent rental criteria that apply equally across all applicants is also key.

3. Run a credit check

Landlords frequently employ credit checks as a method for screening tenants to assess whether or not they are financially capable enough for your rental property. Most applicants’ credit reports contain critical information like debt amounts owed, past payment histories, and any bankruptcy filings that may impact an applicant.

An applicant with good credit may indicate their intent to pay rent on time and in full; conversely, an unfavorable report could signal they’re untrustworthy of your property.

4. Check for evictions

Landlords and property managers understand the significance of finding quality tenants as one of their most essential tasks, as finding suitable ones could save them thousands in rent lost, property damage claims, eviction process costs, and relocation fees.

Integrating a check for past evictions into your screening process is a simple and effective way of learning more about an applicant’s rental history; often eviction history indicates an applicant will break lease terms and cause problems within your rental property.

5. Check for criminal records

Landlords typically conduct criminal background checks as the initial step in their tenant screening process. Landlords prioritize tenants who will pay rent on time and take good care in maintaining their property – poor tenants can cost thousands in lost rent and damage costs!

Landlords must be mindful of Fair Housing Laws that prohibit discrimination against protected classes (e.g. race, national origin, religion, sex, or familial status). 

If you want to make sure you have great tenant screening, but don’t want to do all the work, hire an excellent property management company with a solid reputation.

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