7 Key Tips for Screening Tenants

Tenants can make or break the experience of being a landlord. While great tenants can mean a hassle-free and lucrative investment, nightmare tenants bring stress and the potential to lose money from missed rent and costly repairs. While instincts count, sometimes they aren’t enough to screen out terrible tenants.

Tips for Screening TenantsUse these seven tips for screening tenants to avoid problem renters and connect with the best tenants:

1. Start Screening Tenants from First Contact

Watch for red flags or signs of trouble the moment a prospective tenant reaches out. Missed calls, being late for appointments, or sharing drama about their personal lives could be signs of unreliability.

2. Meet Them in Person

Meeting face to face before renting to someone is key to getting a better sense of their character.

3. Have Them Fill out a Rental Application

A written rental application allows for the collection of all relevant information needed to make a sound decision when renting a property. Make sure the application covers all data points.

4. Ask for Proof of Identity

Confirm identity by asking to see a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license from all potential tenants, and write down the number on their rental application.

5. Follow the FHA (Fair Housing Act)

Do not discriminate against any applicant based upon race, culture or religious orientation. Also, make sure to indicate on the rental application what will be done with the information provided. For example, if using a tenant screening service or calling character references, get their permission to do so.

6. Use a Tenant Screening Service

A comprehensive background check is one of the best ways to screen potential renters. The best tenants screening companies offer county criminal background checks, Federal background checks, instant national eviction record, social security traces, and sex offender registry search.

7. Confirm Their Character

Get the contact information of their previous landlord so that you can call and confirm that they were a reliable tenant. Ask for three character references that you can call as well.

Not all tenants are a good fit, and screening tenants effectively requires a blend of intuition, common sense and not leaving anything to chance. Use these seven tips to steer clear of problem tenants and increase the chances of forming lasting, mutually beneficial tenant-landlord relationships.

Disclaimer: The information presented is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

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