The world is full of many different wonderful people. If only we had enough time to meet them all. As amazing as people are, not all of them make the best tenant for your rental. Selecting a tenant can be like picking a suitor for one of your children or pets. We still find people amazingly wonderful, but interacting with them on a regular basis allows a strict line of judgement to enter the relationship.

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Fortunately there are recommended actions you can try to protect your rental from tenants you later wish were only applicants. In this blog we gathered tips you can use along with your own methods for weeding out tenants that may not be a match for your rental. If you have some additional tips, please share so other landlords can rent only to reliable tenants.

Here are our 5 tips on how to screen a tenant:


1. Create a Process

Creating a process can be as easy as allowing anyone except “blank”. Whatever the basic criteria for approving an applicant be consistent. To avoid any discrimination issues with your selection. Create a one page process document for selecting a tenant and stick to it.  At the top write something to the effect that all people no matter their ethnicity, race, religion, sex, political affiliation and age are potential tenants. Then list your standards for selecting. This document will come in handy if ever there is a dispute of whom you disapproved. For helpful hints on creating this go to FHA and there are many tips on how to adhere to the FHA’s code of ethics for landlords.

2. Rental Application, for sure

First on a list is a rental application. This will save you a lot of time. Tenant is able to fill it out remotely and you don’t have to meet in person. This application provides information about your potential tenants, their past actions and past leases. There are some great tools online to help make this easier and paperless as well. Everything you need is a click of a button away and the online rental application can be sent to the applicant, reviewed and stored online. Check out TenantCloud system for this purpose.

Related: What to Know About Rental Application Fee: Useful Landlord Guide

3. Run, Landlord and run

A background check and a credit check are easy ways to find some low hanging fruit for why an applicant may not be a match. Not always as sweet as a rummaging through a box of chocolates, but much more useful for your rental. It can help ensure that there are no hidden surprises. Background checks can show you whether your potential tenant did break property or used to skip the rent.

If you want to go even deeper, check a potential renter’s credit history. You will need to get his or her permission in writing as well as their Social Security number, but it may give insight into how often they do or don’t pay their bills. Again, many online property management systems offer you such option within their system.

4. Rumor has it

Try to find out the name of a previous landlord. Sometimes landlords do not report their former tenants for various reasons. But you can connect with previous landlord and have a little conversation. Also, you  may ask potential tenants for references. If you get them - check them. Sometimes tenants may give fake references, so in this case it would be nice to double-check it. Moreover, you can check your potential tenants on Facebook or other social networks. Sometimes they say much more than any application in regards to finding pictures of the applicant trashing their current rental:)

5. Sometimes you just have to go Offline

Sure it is easier to call or Skype your potential tenant, but eventually you need to meet in person. This should come later in the process, but you will meet and form your opinion about potential tenant’s personality. This will help you to make the last decision whether this person is a match or not so much :)

We hope these tips will help you to find a great tenant and protect your property from a terrible one. We also hope these tips help you save time in making your selection. If you have any other “special moves” than share and comment.


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