Tenant screening is one of the most important things a landlord can do to successfully rent a property. Make sure you have a written screening process in place, as well as written criteria that establishes your requirements for approval. Follow these six tenant screening tips when you’re placing a tenant.
Good screening starts with a good application. Make sure you have a written or online application form that all tenants 18 years of age or older will complete. It should ask for all pertinent information and obtain permission for you to check backgrounds and call references. Before a prospective tenant fills out an application and pays an application fee, make sure you provide your written qualifying criteria. This will tell applicants what’s required to be approved for a property.
You’ll need to look at an applicant’s credit. The credit score doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect, but you want to see a record of paid bills and responsible financial management. Red flags might be prior evictions, late or unpaid utility bills, and judgments or debts owed to former landlords and property management companies.
Run a tenant background check on your applicants. Check the terrorist watch list and the sexual predator registry. If you won’t rent to people who have a criminal past, make sure you aren’t violating any disparate impact sections of the fair housing laws.
Employment and Income
Talk to employers to verify that the applicants work where they say they work. Ask for pay stubs, bank statements, or tax records to verify income. Ideally, your tenants will earn at least three times the monthly rent. This will tell you they can pay rent on time every month.
Get an accurate rental history by talking to current and former landlords. Ask if rent was paid on time, if any property damage was left behind, and whether you received enough notice before they moved out. Tenants who had trouble following a lease agreement previously will probably have trouble following your lease requirements as well.
Fair Housing Laws
It’s very important that you follow all state, federal, and local fair housing laws. Even the appearance of discrimination in your advertising, screening, or leasing procedures can lead to big trouble for you. Remember that fair housing laws are changing all the time, so you have to keep up with new legislation and requirements.
Make sure you’re screening well so you have a great tenant. If you have any questions or need any help with California City property management, please don’t hesitate to contact us at JBL & Associates.