Before signing the rental agreement, you need to make sure that the tenants are as per your expectation mark. This article will guide you on how homeowners screen their tenants before providing them with property possession.
Why Screen Tenants?
You can never be too cautious when it comes to picking the perfect tenant for your property. You don’t want to end up with unsuitable tenants who will prove to be problematic for either you or the well-being of your property. In fact, it is imperative that all the applicants are fully screened to the extent you as a landlord can be really sure that this is the tenant who will not cause any damage or harm to your property or the future income you earn through it.
To effectively screen all your prospective tenants follow these 3 easy steps:
Think of your screening process as a process for screening prospective employees who have sent in their resumes. You have to take a similar approach and meet with each applicant in person to really know what they are like, what their expectations and attitudes towards the property and their tenancy are like. You can find out a lot about the party from just a short meeting such as their body language and their answers and attitudes to your questions can say a lot about them and will help you gain the insight you need to assess their honesty, character and trustworthiness.
- Ask Them to Fill Out a Rental Application
After the process of showing the property to the tenants and they have expressed their interest in the property, prompt them to fill out a rental application.
A rental application can be very helpful for the screening process as it will help you gather all the specific information and details that you want to know about the applicant. You can easily ask questions and gain relative insight from the rental application that can not be gained through an oral and informal conversation with them. A rental application typically includes the following information:
- Contact information about the applicant such as their name, email address, phone number, etc.
- Their previous Rental History
- Their Employment details and history
In the event, an applicant refuses to fill out the application form, you as the landlord reserve the right to refuse to rent to them. Additionally, the applicants may deliberately omit important details that were requested in the application, they may also leave some parts of the application unfilled. It is also a possibility that applicants might give answers that are too vague to deduce anything from them. It is upon you as the landlord, to make sure such ambiguity is eliminated either by making the questions very specific and formatting the applications in a way that answers can only be given in a quantifiable way or you can review their filled application before they leave and ask for completion of answers or request further clarification.
- Verify Their Information
It is best practice to conduct a background check, checking the applicant’s previous and current employment history as well as reviewing their credit score to understand and make better assessments about their ability to make regular rent payments as tenants. It is also recommended that you obtain a reference from tenant’s previous landlords so they can give you insights about their behaviors and attitudes as a tenant. You can deduce a lot from this such as whether they are responsible or not and if they will make monthly payments regularly.
While you are free to choose anyone as your tenant, it is still important that you always take factors such as the few stated below in consideration before renting your property to anyone and entering into a Lease Agreement:
- Credit history
- Reference checks
Under the Fair Housing Laws, landlords or representatives can not discriminate against applicants based on their race, gender, religion or any disability, etc. When screening and deciding who to rent the property to. In order to avoid any legal proceedings and impositions due to these, it is essential that you treat all the applicants equally and measure them against reasonable and fair criteria.
Quick Screening Tips
Require all applicants to fill out a Rental Application Form.
Always conduct a background check and review important factors such as their employment history, references from employers and previous landlords.
If an applicant gives you a bad feeling and any of their verbal or non-verbal actions make you suspect that they might be problematic such as you suspect they might be dishonest etc. You should trust your intuition and continue with the other applicants.
Make your ads for the rental property very specific and add as many details as possible regarding your preferences and what you will not prefer in a tenant such as you can state: “non-smokers only”, “no pets allowed” this will make some prospective tenants filter themselves out themself and you will not be stuck with a pool of too many unsuitable applicants.