One of the most important steps that you as a successful landlord can take is having a consistent and thorough screening process. Tenant screening is a great way to reduce some of the risks of being a landlord, such as tenant eviction, late payments and property damage. If you are new to the game of rental properties, you might be wondering what’s the best way to screen tenants for your rental. Luckily, we have the answers.
1. Request an Application
Begin by asking every prospective tenant to complete an application. You can create your own rental application or get a sample from your local real estate association. Real estate investors and we buy houses companies may also be able to share sample rental applications that they use. Make sure the form you opt for covers all you want to know about your tenant. Your best bet is choosing an application that covers financial, employment and personal information. Also, don’t forget to make it clear in the form that a criminal history report, a background check, or a credit check will be ordered if needed.
2. Run a Credit Check
The laws in certain states allow the landlord to charge a prospective tenant for the cost of ordering a credit check. Other states require that the landlord covers the cost. Either way, pulling a tenant’s credit record is always a good idea as you can get an insight into their credit’s history in the last 10 years. When reviewing the credit report, look for any late payments, collection accounts, or bigger issues like bankruptcy. Think of it this way – if the tenant has carried hefty loans, has maxed out all of their credit cards, or has a couple of unpaid balances, they might find it hard to stay consistent with the rent payment.
3. Talk to the Previous Landlord
Usually, when a potential landlord calls a former landlord, they ask simpler questions such as whether the tenant has paid the entire rent as well as whether the former landlord was informed on time that the tenant was moving out. Nevertheless, to get a real idea of the tenant, you might want to dig a bit deeper and ask whether the tenant has a history of late payments, whether they have caused any major damages to the property, whether they have had any issues with the neighbors and would they consider renting an apartment to that particular tenant in the future?
4. Phone Interview the Tenant
If you think that all of the credit and background information that you’ve gathered checks out, it would be a good idea to do a quick phone interview with the tenant. The reason for this is because when showing your rental unit to a new person, most of the time you focus more on emphasizing all the right features of the property rather than actually getting to know that tenant. Therefore, by giving potential tenants a quick call, you can focus more on them and find out more about their personality and lifestyle. Some questions you can ask a prospective tenant is whether they have pets, do they plan on having a roommate in the foreseeable future, how does a typical work day for them look like, do they work night shifts, do they smoke and if yes, where do they usually do that – inside or outside, will they have frequently friends or relatives over who would spend the night, etc.