Dos and Don’ts in Screening Your Tenants

If you are to put your buildings, house, or apartment up for rent, you got to make sure you are choosing a good tenant. Otherwise, you may not be able to earn from one of your life’s most expensive assets, or worse, you may

Why screen your prospective tenants?

Since in property leasing, you will be dealing with a diverse clientele, tenant screening will help you make sure the people you are entrusting your properties with are credible, reliable, and trustworthy. It usually looks into these two important areas:

  • Tenant’s Ability to Pay

There are property owners who freely accept tenants without assessing if they are capable of successfully paying their monthly bills or not and these owners would usually end up carrying the burden of late payments. That is one of the important concerns tenant screening services aim to address. Tenant screening procedures will involve doing a thorough background check on the potential tenants in order to determine whether they are financially able to pay or not. Majority of tenant screening companies are certified and granted automatic access to information that show a potential tenant’s credit history, income sources, and paying behavior.

While you can do the screening yourself, chances are the documents your potential tenants have shown you had been altered already. But if you have a reputable professional screening company do the job, you can be sure that your decision will be based on facts and facts alone.

  • Tenant’s Criminal Records

Choosing the wrong tenant may not only expose you to financial risks, it can also put you and your current tenants in a dangerous situation. This is basically what will go down if you happened to accept a tenant with criminal records. Tenant screening, in this case, makes sure your renters are truly worth of your trust. It will dig into your prospective tenant’s criminal history and will automatically flag applicants that can potentially threat your property’s environment.

Dos and Don’ts in Tenant Screening

You basically have two options on how to screen your tenants: either you do everything by yourself or you hire a tenant screening service provider to save you hours of tedious work. If you want to give tenant screening a try, here are the dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

1. Do follow a protocol.

To ensure that your choice is a good tenant, it would be best to follow and stick to a tenant screening protocol.

Firstly, have the prospective tenant show you a number of required documents. This commonly includes valid, government issued IDs like driver’s license and social security card, proof of employment, proof of income usually in the form of income statement or pay slips for the last three months, and a credit report. You can also ask for additional documents like a letter signed from the prospective tenant’s previous landlord, pictures, and vet records of any pets.

2. Do meet the applicant in person.

You have the right to limit your prospective tenant’s options, i.e. instead of allowing electronic submissions of documents, you can require them to appear and meet you personally. Through this, you will know if an applicant is just fooling around or he is truly in dire need for a place to rent. 

3. Do check the authenticity of the documents submitted.

Nowadays, fake or fraudulent documents of all kinds are made easily accessible. Hence, it pays to be wary enough and implement measures that would check the authenticity of the documents your prospective tenant has presented. It can be done in different ways. For instance, to verify your tenant’s employment, you may give his company’s HR a call. As for the submitted credit report, just check if the document is authenticated. The applicant’s credit file will give you a glimpse of the his credit history and payment behavior. As there’s a big chance you’ll be basing your decision largely on it to gauge his paying ability, might as well make sure that the file is disclosing nothing but only authentic records.

4. Do maintain compliance.

After scrutinizing the prospective tenant’s background, credit history, criminal records, and other critical information, part of the compliance procedure is to be transparent in your decisions. To protect every tenant’s right, if an application is rejected, do make sure your decision is communicated.

Moreover, as a law compliance measure, turning down tenants on the basis of sexual preference is not allowed. The only valid grounds are income, reference letters, and most importantly, credit scores and criminal records. Depending on your preference, you can also draw a bold line that bars alcoholism and pets.

5. Don’t discount the importance of tenant screening.

Picking your tenant too quickly and easily is like giving yourself and the people around your property a shortcut to financial and security threats, respectively. If you dread going through the tedious process, you can always hire a certified tenant screening provider to do it for you instead of settling for the easy route.

6.  Don’t let your emotions drive you.

Don’t be too emotional in picking a candidate. Just because you feel more at ease with candidate 1, does not mean candidate 1 is the right person to entrust your property with. Looks can be deceiving, more so if the person is masking a fake identity with fake documents. Keep your focus.

7. Don’t discriminate.

Everyone has the right to live and occupy a property for lease regardless of religion, race, national origin, familial status, disability, or sexual reference. These are not a lawful basis.

8. Don’t instantly turn over the key.

It should not end with your prospective tenant having a promising background, employment, and credit history. Don’t hand the key unless the tenant has deposited his first month’s rent and security deposit.

9. Don’t forget to check your property from time to time.

You won’t really know about your property’s condition unless you check it personally or you are living in the neighborhood. If the idea’s a bit hassling on your part, you can gradually adjust your schedule, i.e. check weekly on the first month, and then do it every two weeks to months after.

A Tenant Screening Company Can Help You…

The tedious tenant screening process will take much of your time and yet it does not guarantee an accurate result unlike those released from a reputable tenant screening company. Professional tenant screeners are usually given legal access to confidential, authentic information that can largely determine a person’s eligibility to rent or not. Hiring them will save you lots of headaches and stress and you won’t necessarily have to pay much for it.

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