Five Easy Tips for Screening & Qualifying Tenants

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on May 29, 2006 under Tenant Credit Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

For a rental property owner, it is never easy to sit back and take it easy with it lying vacant, instead of bringing in a steady monthly income. So getting it rented out is your first priority. But, if only one were lucky enough to get ideal tenants, tenants who treat your property as their own, always pay rent on time and don’t distrurb the neighbors. That is why it is necessary for landlords to screen tenants before renting out property. Five easy steps to getting a properly qualified tenant are as follows:

  1. Step 1 –
    • Name,
    • Phone No.,
    • Reason for moving,
    • Number of people who will be calling your property home,
    • When they would like to move in,
    • Pets if any,
    • Last but not least, ask them to provide previous landlord references.
  2. First contact with a tenant, whether you are a landlord, real estate agent or property anager is usually by phone. This is when you can begin screening your would be tenant by asking the right qualifying questions before proceeding to the next step. Give all information such as rent, security deposit requirements over the phone and then proceed to asking getting answers to the following important questions:Get answers to all these questions over the phone, and proceed to qualify or disqualify prospective tenants if they have trouble giving you the requested information. If serious, they will wish to make a good impression, eagerly answering your questions. This process can save you and customers a lot of time and trouble.

  3. Step 2 – When showing them around the property, it is essential to watch for certain telltale signs while evaluating prospective new tenants.
    1. Appearance – Check their appearance, whether he / she is neat and clean, whether he / she made an attempt to make a good impression? You can be certain, in most cases; an unkempt person’s home will mirror his appearance, as will his / her lifestyle.
    2. Car – Ditto with the car. Check if the car is nice, clean, and well maintained?
    3. Attitude & Manners – Study attitude and manners, e.g. did he / she wipe their feet before stepping into the house or did they walk in smoking a cigarette. One can learn a lot from the attitude and manners of people, gauging from them whether they will be difficult to deal with in the future?
    4. Criticizing the property – try and determine whether criticisms about your property are legitimate concerns, or merely issues raised to try to negotiate the rent?
    5. Yes or No – whether the prospect is decisive enough to make a decision or has to think about it? If they want your rental, they will have come prepared with a deposit and have all information on hand to fill out a rental application form?
  4. Step 3 – Once the applicant has filled out the application form, let him / her know their application will be considered along with the others, and they will be notified once a decision has been arrived at. Advise the applicant(s) the importance of filling out the application as completely, as possible.And, if you intend to run a credit report on the applicant, that is recommended, you can collect a screening fee from your prospective tenant. Surprised, don’t be! There is a provision for this in most rental applications. That is one of the reasons, why you must ensure your rental application forms are quality ones, and not just any rag tag thing that has been quickly run up. Ask prospective tenants to return completed applications as soon as possible to avoid losing the rental to competing prospects. Review and verify the application forms thoroughly, looking for inconsistencies and ‘red flags’, and only when you are completely satisfied, then and then only proceed to the next step.
  5. Step 4 – Once, you have approved an applicant as a prospective tenant, let them know you are prepared to take them on, along with any special concessions you made just for them, such as overlooking minor credit infractions, etc. etc. This process is also an opportunity for you to make sure the applicant can and will deliver. Set the time, date and place for your lease signing. Instruct the applicant(s) to bring the appropriate amount, identification (if you don’t already have it), and how you prefer to be paid, by cheque, money order or cash. Remember to tell new tenants, possession or keys will be given only after all cheques have been cleared.
  6. Step 5 – As recommended before, ensure you have a quality residential lease. As a rule, people mostly sign a lease without reading them carefully. It would be a good idea to go over the entire lease with tenants at a lease signing. Reading lease terms along with the tenants, allows you to conduct your fifth and final step of screening by keeping a lookout for any arguments the prospective tenant may have, such as the issue of a late charge for late rental payment, and so on. If you are unhappy with how your prospective tenant responds to the lease, you are advised not to take him / her as your tenants.

Bide your time till a suitable applicant comes along! Better no tenant at all than to be stuck with a bad tenant!

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