How to Screen Potential Tenants

As a landlord in a sellers market, you cannot afford to skip screening tenants for your rental properties anymore. A quick phone call or meeting is not enough; with more and more applicants coming in, you need to devise a thorough and systematic assessment process for each prospective renter. As a real estate company Graana advises that this can help minimize risks in the long run, such as non-payment of rent, property damage or, ultimately, eviction. 

Financial state and what it implies

If one has a positive financial history, they would be more likely to make rent payments on time. However, if someone has had a habit of paying late in the past, chances are that they will continue to do so in the future. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which level of income would deem sufficient or stable enough to support rent payments in the long term. According to industry standards though, the level of income should ideally be thrice the rent amount. 

More background history

Expand your background search to include eviction history and criminal history. In the case of the latter especially, relevant information can help you avoid putting your property and neighborhood at risk. 

Communication is always key

Narrow down the field by setting up expectations beforehand. You can determine the right fit by communicating your expectations to your prospects at the very beginning. For example, what is your pet policy? Do you plan to have routine inspections? Who foots which bill? Are there any deal-breakers? In this manner, the process would be simplified as there would be no misunderstandings in the future about what is expected from each party. Also be honest about your rental if your space does not deliver what they are looking for in the first place, they should be made aware of it to avoid wasting everyones time.  

Observe how they communicate with you as well. For instance, do they get back to you on time? If they dont, how serious do you think they are about the rental? Are they hesitant about providing you with their references? Are they unwilling to share pertinent details like why they are moving, where they work etc.? If their answers vary each time you talk to them, that is another warning sign. However, even if someone is well-versed in their version of the story, avoid taking it at face value until you have verified it. 

What others have to say

Contacting references can be a time-consuming process; sometimes it is difficult to get through to them at all. But it is necessary to take this step to get a complete picture of your prospective tenant and also ensure that they provided you with the correct information.

Ask your tenant to give you multiple references: both personal and work references, and those from their last rental as well (if applicable). Tell each reference to let you know when they are free for a call, so they can especially take out time to talk to you and you dont have to make do with just a quick chat. Ask the work reference how long the tenant has been employed at their workplace, verify their job title, and determine if it is a steady job. When contacting a previous landlord, ask how regularly did the tenant pay on time; if they caused any damage to the rental place; if the rental contract was violated in any way; if the neighbors ever had any complaints; if there are any incidents you should be made aware of; and if they would ever choose to rent to the person in question again. 

If you own multiple rentals, you may have the odd issue with your tenants no matter how competent you are as a property manager. Regardless, a thorough screening in the beginning can improve the quality of potential tenants and make up for any occasional issue the aim is to just save you a lot of trouble (and money) in the long run. 

If youre looking to buy, sell and rent properties, this directory of properties should help you out.


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