As a landlord, you want to ensure your properties are well maintained and that you’re paid promptly each month. The process of building a smooth relationship with your tenants begins far before their move-in day. In order to ensure you’re not forced into court proceedings with tenants who refuse to pay or who destroy your property, you must build a quality tenant screening procedure. Before you sign a lease with just any renter with a good credit score, use these five screening elements.
A short conversation with possible tenants can help you make an intuitive decision about what a future with them may be like. A pre-screening interview can reveal a lot about future tenants. Have a phone or in-person conversation asking:
- Who will live in the home / unit?
- Do you have any pets?
- When is your desired move in date?
- Are you comfortable with a background screening?
- Are you comfortable with a credit and eviction history check?
- Can you provide proof of income?
- Do you have employer and past landlord references?
These basic questions can help you build an understanding of the possible tenants and determine if moving forward in the application process is the right move to make.
Read The Applications
For those prospects who make it to the application process, be sure to read all the paperwork. What prospects reveal on the application may surprise you. Create a digital system that organizes and saves the applications and categorizes them as to why you rejected or accepted them.
Verify Past Housing
Ask for references for current and past employers and housing landlords. Although it will take some time, it’s crucial to call these references and confirm employment and reveal any evictions or housing issues. As a real estate investor and landlord, it’s your responsibility to contact anyone who can give you a better understanding of who your potential tenant is.
Google The Applicant
For applicants who intentionally leave information off of an application, Google may reveal more. Try using the applicants name with the city or town from which they’re moving. You’ll likely pull a lot of information, much of which may not be related to your applicant. By using quotations around your search words (i.e. – “Katie Smith”), the search engine will only pull information for that exact name. Some sites will reveal past housing, criminal records, or past employment.
Search for the prospect on social media to reveal their lifestyle and information they may not have included on the application or pre-screening phone call. Take note of photos with pets, that reveal parties, or even drug use. For public profiles, you’ll also be able to see what type of information (or complaints) they make on social media. If someone is constantly bashing their employer or a current landlord, take the posts as warning signs.
Finding the right tenant can be difficult, but putting in the time and effort to perform thorough background and reference checks will make the next 12 months of your life much easier. Start with a pre-screening interview and don’t limit yourself to information they make available. Renting your property to responsible tenants means the home will need fewer repairs and you’ll avoid legal battles to regain control of your property.