The most important factors of the tenant screening process are credit and criminal checks, employment and income verification, and rental history. Your perfect tenant will pay rent on time, follow the terms of the lease and take excellent care of your property. In order to find that ideal tenant, you need to thoroughly screen applicants.
Start the screening with a detailed application. You want to collect and verify as much information as possible on your potential tenants. It’s important to have every resident 18 years of age or older fill out and sign an application. You’ll also need to pay attention to fair housing requirements. Every applicant needs to be treated consistently. It helps to have a written rental criteria available so people interested in your home will know if they have a chance of being approved before they take time to fill out your application.
Credit and Criminal Checks
One of the first things most landlords and property managers do after receiving a completed application is a credit check. You aren’t necessarily looking for a perfect credit score, but you do want to see a credit report that demonstrates the ability and willingness to pay bills. Pay special attention to prior evictions or money that’s owed to former landlords. You also want to run a national criminal background check. Decide in advance whether you want to allow someone with a criminal record in your property and remember to be consistent.
Employment and Income Verification
The perfect tenant will have a stable job history and enough income to cover the cost of your rent. Set a standard that requires prospective tenants to earn a specific amount, for example three times the amount of monthly rent. Take the time to verify the information that’s on the application. Call the employer or ask to see pay stubs, tax records or bank accounts to ensure accuracy. The extra time you put into reference verification pays off with a financially reliable tenant.
It’s necessary to talk to current and prior landlords. Ask what kind of tenants the applicants were. You want to know if they paid rent on time, maintained the home and if the applicant received their entire security deposit back. Find out if the applicant had pets or if there was damage when they moved out. Take the time to do a little research and make sure you’re talking to the actual landlord, and not some friend of your applicant.
Tenant screening is important to protecting your property. One bad tenant can cost thousands of dollars and create endless stress. If you have any questions or need any help, please contact us at Lowcountry Property Management and Sales.
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