Properly screening tenants is one of the most important things you can do as a landlord. The type of tenant you place in your home will have a huge impact on the success of your rental property. Good tenants will pay rent on time every month, help to maintain your property and fulfill the terms of their lease. Bad tenants can cause damage to your property, pay late and cause problems for you and your investment.
Credit and Financial Checks
Every good landlord will run a credit check. While you aren’t necessarily looking for perfect credit, you do want to make sure your potential tenant doesn’t owe any former landlords money. Look for people who are responsible in paying their bills and not consistently late on things like utility payments. You want to make sure tenants understand what kind of security deposit will be due along with the first month’s rent. If your potential tenants are unable to pull together the funds that are needed to move in, you probably can’t count on them paying on time every month.
Employment and Income
Look for a tenant who is employed and earns enough income to cover your rent. Most professional property managers require that tenants earn at least three times the monthly rent. Ask for documentation and verification of that income, which may come in the form of pay stubs or tax records. If your tenant is retired or self-employed, bank records that show regular deposits can be used.
Always talk to current and former landlords. Ask about whether the tenant paid on time, kept the property clean and received all or most of the security deposit back at the end of the lease. Former landlords will be able to tell you if there were problems with pets or complaints from neighbors.
Criminal Background Check
Run a criminal background check so you know you’re putting someone in your property who is safe and responsible. A few traffic offenses might not be a big deal, but someone with a history of violent crimes or drug offenses could bring you a lot of liability.
If you don’t have the resources to rigorously screen your tenants, contact a property management company or a third party screening service. It’s also important to pay attention to fair housing laws when you’re screening. Everyone needs to be treated fairly and consistently, so having written rental criteria in place is recommended.
If you have any questions about screening tenants, please contact us at Highland Realty & Management. We’d be happy to help you.