Tips to screen potential tenants

Tips to screen potential tenants

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Renting out your property is no easy feat. Getting stuck with a wrong tenant may leave you worrying relentlessly about getting paid on time, about the condition of your property and getting complaining calls from harried neighbors. But how can you make sure you are renting your property to a tenant who is reliable, safe, pays rent on time and takes good care of your property? After all, it is very likely that you may not be able to assess your tenant on all these parameters during the initial interview or meeting.

But you can certainly take some steps to get the best renter for you. Let’s take a few useful tips that will help you screen every potential renter carefully before you can get into any formal, long-term agreement with them.

Tips to screen potential tenants

1. Request an application

Ask the prospective renter to fill out a rental application. You can download a sample rental application form available online or create your own customized form requesting details such as:

• A photocopy of a valid proof of identity, driver’s license number.
• Profession, current and previous employment status.
• Employers references.
• Current income and other financial information.
• Contact information for former landlords.
• Personal information, for example age, number of occupants, number of pets, etc.
• List of personal references with names, contact information and the length of acquaintance.

2. Perform a credit check

While you will need to get the prospective renter’s permission in writing, performing a credit check will get you a useful insight into the history of late payments, and even important issues such as bankruptcy. While a few cases of late payments should not impact the prospects of the tenant, you would like to consider your decision renting your house to someone with a history of bankruptcy.

3. Run a background check

A thorough background check will bring out any hidden issues that your tenant may decide to hide from you. It will give you a detailed accounts of eviction history, credit history, criminal history and even public records. You may want to re-consider your decision if you find out that the potential client has been recently evicted, has the history of skipping rent or have a serious criminal record against him. A background check will also reveal if the tenant has ever been sued or involved in a legal battle.

4. Get in touch with the previous landlords

It is a good idea to follow up with the previous landlords and ask basic questions that may reveal some information that may help you decide an informed decision. What questions can you ask?

• Does the tenant owes them any outstanding payment?
• Whether the tenant always paid on time or skipped the payments?
• How was the basic conduct of the tenant? Did he or she get into any conflicts with the neighbor or disrupted the neighbors in any way?
• Did the tenant took care of the rental property?
• Would you prefer to rent your property to this specific tenant any time in future?

5. Follow up with employers references

Calling up the previous and current employers will help you to check the information provided to you in the application form, for example the length of the employment, income levels etc. This exercise will also give you the opportunity to check if the prospective tenants have given you real references or not – allowing you to establish their credibility in real-time.

6. Meet the potential tenants in person

Now a days, more and more people are relying on digital communication to save time. But if you are really keen to find yourself a right match, you cannot underestimate the importance of a face to face meeting. Meeting your tenants in person will help you assess their personalities and claims better.

7. Follow the Fair Housing Act (FHA)

Fair Housing Act mandates that landlords cannot discriminate against any potential renter on the grounds of race, gender, family status, disability religion or nationality. As a landlord, you must follow FHA’s code of ethics to be fair in your decision. In addition to this, you must seek permission from the prospective tenants before using their social security information and any other personal information to run a background or credit check on them.

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