The process of obtaining a tenant for your rental property seems straight forward. You need to market the property, check out the potential tenant, and then sign the lease. But what exactly should you do when you’re checking out your tenant? Is a credit check enough? Let’s walk through how to screen potential tenants.
Your tenant application should be filled out by every adult 18 years of age and older. This works to your advantage for several reasons including obtaining every adult’s contact information and making each adult liable and responsible for the lease obligations. Children and those adults with incapacities are exempt for background checks, however. Don’t request a simple credit score but rather a full credit report with details for both positive and negative factors. This will help you understand any patterns of late payments and delinquencies.
Credit Reports Alone Aren’t Good Enough
It seems like a reasonable assumption that if a potential tenant has failed to make payments on their financial obligations they’ll have a less than desirable credit score. That may be true but what if a previous landlord didn’t report to the credit bureaus or the tenant has worked to clean up their credit score? As part of your research, you should search the local (in relation to their previous addresses) court records for eviction proceedings. You’ll also want to run a criminal search for each applicant.
Make the Calls
Asking for references does you no good if you do nothing with the information. You should verify current employment status as well as the likelihood for continued employment. Contact other landlord references to confirm that timeliness of payments and if the tenant’s behavior was in line with the lease.
A thorough tenant screening puts you in the best position possible to decide whether to approve or decline your applicants. You don’t need to do all the leg work yourself though. There are services you can order the necessary credit, criminal, and eviction reports and have them delivered right to your inbox. All you’ll need to do is make the phone calls to confirm employment and prior rental history. If a potential tenant is hesitant or refuses to submit to the screening process you’ve put in place should be an automatic disqualification for consideration.