Screening Potential Tenants

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on June 22, 2006 under Tenant Screening & Background Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

As landlord of rental homes or apartment complexes in high demand, you are also required to maintain high standards in order to keep your tenants happy. Therefore, you cannot afford to rent to anyone who has just walked off the street. How can you be sure they won’t have your building raided, because of the herbal – read marijuana – garden they have been growing in their apartment, or because they hold rave parties at their place? To avoid such tenant complications, it is advisable for landlords to screen tenants and ensure the background check performed is extensive.

If your rental units are in high demand, it is only natural you should also have high expectations of tenant applicants. And, while screening tenants don’t shy away from asking questions, ask as many as you like, without fear of being accused as meddlesome and prying. After all, what else is a background check about!

Your application form should ask for current employment information and it is a good idea to request the previous employment information, as well. The current employer may confirm they are great employees, but then if he / she has only been employed there for a few weeks that does not hold out. You should contact his / her previous employer and find out, whether he / she walked out of their job, or whether he / she constantly came late to work, or were he / she fired for inappropriate behaviour?

Similarly, you should contact both current and previous landlords, as current landlords may only sing paeans of praise in case they want to get rid of that particular tenant. It is the previous landlord with nothing to lose, who will give you only the truth and nothing, but the blunt truth. Check on the consistency of rental payments, or if they proved troublesome for other tenants, etc.

Ask prospective tenants what their annual income is to determine what they can afford as rent. Most property managers maintain rent should not be more than 33% of a tenant’s income, doing the requisite math should let you know, whether the tenant can comfortably make rental payments and on time. No matter, it is still important to verify their finances through employers and credit histories to get at the truth.

Then too, you application form should include a question about whether or not he / she plans to move in with pets or acquire them later. Not only do pets, especially large ones in small areas cause expensive damages, they also have your rental unit smelling foul, and it is unfair to cage the animals in small units! And again, if you are an animal lover, you will not want someone who cares so little for living creatures to rent your units.

As well, be sure to include a clause in your rental application form stating your right to perform criminal, personal and financial background checks on prospective tenants. Without this clause in the tenant’s signed application, you have no legal rights to conduct a background check.

If after talking to past employers and landlords, you are okay with the applicant, as a last measure, run a credit report. Since, credit reports can be expensive i.e. $35 to $50/-, do a credit check only on tenants whose screening has proved they are worthy of living in your rental complex or house. Actually, you can add a clause in your application form saying tenants are responsible for paying for their own credit reports.

Once you have confirmed everything is kosher about the tenant, go ahead and have him / her sign the lease. There is no doubt that your efforts will have paid off, as your new tenant maintains your property as if it were his / her own, including paying the rent on time!

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