As a landlord, you want to make sure you find the best tenant who will check most of the marks on your list. This process is, in a way, similar to a job interview where potential candidates need to fulfill the role but also feel reliable and likable. Screening tenants involves a few stages where a property manager will go over some information about the candidate and screen any specifics the property owner might request.
According to real estate industry veterans at Neuman & Neuman, landlords who have recently purchased a property or had a property remodeled need to be particularly careful about the tenant screening process. It is essential, especially if they want to protect their investment and maintain its resale value and a stellar record as a landlord.
That is why many landlords, whether they have experience or not, prefer to delegate the task of tenant screening and other aspects of property management to professional companies which already have a stringent vetting process in place. It is in the best interest of a property manager to avoid evictions. That is why they execute the tenant’s screening process with meticulous attention to detail.
So what exactly does that process involve?
1. Property Owner’s Concerns
We recommend that you start with some elementary questions to validate a candidate. As a property manager, the landlord will want you to assess if the tenant will pay the rent on time. Is the tenant responsible? Will they care about the property decently?
After that, you need to consider whether you can trust the potential tenant to avoid causing any problems to the owner or other tenants. Every landlord is renting their property to make money, but they also want to ensure that the renter will not ruin their property or cause any legal issues.
Besides, letting a stranger into a piece of property you are legally responsible for is not easy. That is why you must pay attention to details during tenant screenings. Nothing must fall through the cracks if you want to ensure you have found a responsible renter that will pay rent on time, abide by the rules and regulations, and act responsibly.
2. Employment and Credit Check
Screening can vary depending on the owner’s needs and the manager’s style. But in general, there are a few factors to take into consideration when screening a candidate.
Ideally, you want an employed tenant whose salary can cover the rent and the bills. You can use sites like Linkedin to better understand where the candidate is working. You can also perform a credit check to see if the candidate has had any financial problems in recent years or significant debts. If it proves that he did, you may want to call the whole thing off. Chances are they may run into financial trouble again and get behind on the rent for so long that you will have no option but to evict, which is the worst-case scenario for any landlords, especially the inexperienced ones.
3. Rental History
Next, you should check the tenant’s rental history. You can talk to the tenant’s previous landlords or managers. If the potential candidate can not provide a rental history, it would be wise to ask for a guarantor to sign the lease.
Questions you should ask previous landlords should include:
- Were they paying on time?
- Why did they move, and did they give a 30 days notice?
- Was the apartment clean under their occupancy, and did they leave any damage?
- Were there any complaints from neighbors or the tenant themselves?
- How was their relationship with the landlord?
4. Criminal Background Check
Better safe than sorry. Criminal background check is one more layer to ensure the tenant is a good choice. A criminal offense is a public record, so you should have no trouble doing a check at a courthouse. That is what every professional property manager should perform as their standard procedure.
People can falsify these records, so you need to confirm that the tenant has given you the correct ID information. It is up to the property manager to provide their discovery to the owner to evaluate whether the tenant’s criminal history can endanger the property or the well-being of other tenants.
5. Trust Your Gut
Every good property manager has to trust their gut. No matter how many background checks you perform, always respect your gut.
The candidate might look perfect on the paper, but sometimes their character or personality might not work for you. In situations like these, you should refer to the owner and explain your concerns. If the candidate is strong, yet your gut tells you no, the landlord can make the final decision.