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How Tenant Screening Helps Landlords Find Great Renters

July 13, 2020

Any landlord is aware that the success of your rental business depends partially on the residents you rent to. If you don’t pay enough attention to the candidates for your rental units, you’re probably missing out on the huge benefits of dealing with quality renters. After all, the more reliable and responsible a tenant is, the greater your chances of boosting your rental income and building a good business reputation. 

There’s an effective way to increase the number of good tenants for your rentals: It’s a proper background check performed prior to signing a lease agreement. 

Let’s see now how a thorough tenant screening can help you find the right tenants:

Helpful tenant screening tools 

Simply put, a tenant screening tool allows you to gather all the necessary information on a potential tenant, including employment and rental history. Most landlords will look for any type of verification that a prospect will have no issues with paying rent and will keep the property in a good condition throughout their tenancy. These are the basic requirements. But apart from that, landlords should always make sure a prospective renter has no prior criminal activity, financial fraud, or evictions. 

Tenant Screening

Some rental tools offer screening services as an extra feature. It’s a worthy and more convenient alternative to standalone tenant screening systems that don’t partner with a property management software. Rental tools like TenantCloud help landlords to ensure they are renting to quality tenants. With the ability to customize rental application questions and run a screening report directly in the application, the screening process seems less troublesome. Also, having specific qualifying criteria helps a lot when it comes to choosing among a bunch of good prospects. 

Tenant screening questions 

As a landlord, you’re in charge of the tenant screening process and you have to decide what questions to ask. But keep in mind that some questions aren’t appropriate, even if you think otherwise. During the interview process avoid discriminating questions of any kind. You cannot ask about national origin, religion, race, sex, marital status, and disability.

Beyond tenant screening questions, social media profiles can tell you a lot about your applicants. Take a closer look at their lifestyle and employment history. That will help you to make the right decision. 

TenantCloud poll on tenant screening
TenantCloud Twitter Poll

Compliance with Fair Housing Act

Make sure your application meets the requirements of the Fair Housing Act that includes essential guidelines to follow. Because the Fair Housing Act prevents housing discrimination, following it will ensure your rental application doesn’t violate any laws.

At the same time, the Fair Credit Reporting Act protects your applicants’ personal information. According to the act, you are obliged to get permission from prospects to run credit checks and let them know what agency you’ve been using. 

You can get more information on tenant screening policies here.

Red flags to look out for

When reviewing rental applications, there might be a couple of red flags to consider:

  • Too many previous residences: There’s nothing criminal in changing places due to personal reasons or job relocations. But for a landlord, this tendency will likely result in high tenant turnover if the tenancy dates aren’t clearly determined in the lease agreement.
  • Prior evictions: If your applicant has indicated that they had been evicted in the past, find out the exact reason and then proceed with the application process. Beware of so-called “professional tenants” who know how to live in the property without paying rent. It’s likely that there will be eviction cases on their record.
  • Unsteady income: Make sure your candidate is able to cover living expenses, including rent payments, security deposits and utility bills. If you’re concerned about their financial capacity, think twice before putting yourself at risk.
  • Low credit score: Consider applicants with the credit score of more than 650. That will give you a sense of security and prevent eviction cases in the future.

How do you fill unit vacancies? Does tenant screening help you find trustworthy tenants? Share your tips in the comments section below.:)