An Informative Landlord’s Guide to the Tenant Screening Process

Did you know that it is important to screen a prospective tenant at least twice before closing the deal?

Screening your tenants goes beyond asking for identification and a payment method. You need to make sure you don’t leave yourself open to a lawsuit for discriminatory housing practices.

Of course, many landlords think that tenant screening is a waste of time. Their reasoning? Most screening companies, only go by publicly accessible records. Does this sound like the reason you haven’t gotten around to screening your tenants?

If so, read on. You’re about to learn why screening your tenants go beyond what most companies offer.

Have a Criminal Background Check

You can hire a professional screening service, or you can do it yourself. Also, you can check it out here to do a criminal background check in minutes. Whichever route you choose, make sure you are getting accurate and up-to-date information.

If you choose to do a criminal background check yourself, you will need to access public records. Start by searching the county court records in the county where the applicant lives. You can also search for state criminal records if the applicant has lived in many states.

Once you have found the records you are looking for, you will need to check them to determine if the applicant is suitable to rent from you. Consider the nature of the offense, how long ago it occurred, and whether they have arrested the applicant for any other crimes.

Know What You’re Looking For in a Tenant

When screening tenants, as landlord advice, should first make a list of the qualities you want in a tenant. This list might include qualities like dependability, respectfulness, and cleanliness.

You should require that each applicant fill out a rental application. This will give you basic information about the applicant, including their employment and rental history. 

You should conduct a personal interview with each applicant. This is your opportunity to get to know the applicant better and to ask questions that you may have.

Conduct an Employment Verification

One way to find tenants is to require them to provide proof of income and employment. This can be as pay stubs, tax returns, or bank statements. If the tenant is self-employed, you may need them to provide a copy of their business license or tax return.

Asking for proof of income and employment is a way to help ensure that your tenant can pay their rent on time and fulfill their lease agreement. 

Have a Thorough Lease Agreement

This agreement should outline all your expectations and rules for the tenants and their rights and responsibilities. It should include all pertinent information about the rental property, such as the address, square footage, and monthly rent price. It should also specify the length of the lease, as well as any rules and regulations of the property.

You must be clear and concise in your lease agreement so that there is no confusion later on. Be sure to go over the agreement with your tenants before they sign it. Also, make sure the tenant understands and agrees with everything in it.

If you have a thorough lease agreement in place, you can rest assured that they will be held accountable if they violate any of the terms of the agreement.

Obtain a Rental History Report

This will help you to see if the applicant has a record of paying rent on time, maintaining the property, and following the rules and regulations of their previous landlords. There are a few different ways to get a rental history report. One option is to request the report from the applicant.

Another option is to use a tenant screening service, which will run a background check and provide you with a rental history report as well. When requesting a rental history report, be sure to include the applicant’s full name, current address, and previous addresses for the past few years.

You should also specify how far back you would like the report to go. Most landlords request reports for the past three years.

Once you have the rental history report, take some time to review it. Pay attention to any red flags, such as evictions or late payments. If you have any concerns, you may want to follow up with the applicant to get more information.

Ask for a Security Deposit

The security deposit is designed to protect you in case the tenant damages your property or fails to pay rent. When asking for a security deposit, specify the amount in your lease agreement. You should also include information on how the deposit will be refunded to the tenant at the end of their lease.

Be sure to keep good records of the security deposit, including when you received it and any deductions that you will make.

Run a Credit Check 

There are a few key steps to running a credit check on a potential tenant. You’ll need to get written permission from the applicant before you can run a credit check. Request a copy of the applicant’s credit report from a credit bureau or a credit reporting agency. 

Once you have the credit report, review it carefully. Look for any red flags that could state financial problems or a history of rental issues. Based on the information in the credit report, you’ll need to decide whether to approve the applicant.

Follow These Tips for an Effective Tenant Screening Process

As a landlord, it is important to thoroughly screen your best tenants to avoid any problems in the future. By doing your research and taking the time to do tenant screening, you can avoid any headaches down the road. Also, by having a security deposit and thorough lease agreement in place, you can help ensure that you are renting to a responsible and trustworthy tenant.

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