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How Do You Perform Tenant Screening On A Prospective Tenant



Tenant Screening

A tenant always worries about how their landlord will be and how flexible the individual will be when it comes to staying in their places.

Just the same way, landlords also hesitate to rent their property to any tenant. After all, they are leaving their property in the hands of the tenant. If anything bad comes out, they are going to pay for the damages or face the consequences.

Apart from that, the landlords also have some responsibilities towards the society they are living in or have property. They just can not bring anyone. They must fulfill their responsibilities towards society.

In case you are thinking about renting your property, you should perform a tenant screening. You will get the Tenant Screening checklist from here, which will make your job a lot easier. This solution will help you with a huge list of potential genuine tenants.

Perform Tenant Screening On A Prospective Tenant

Tenant screening is basically the process that is conducted by the landlords in order to vet potential renters, particularly for their long-term viability as stress-free, paying tenants. You need to ensure you follow the below-mentioned steps to get the best possible tenants.

1st Step: Ask Pre-Screening Questions

Before you are putting your money into the full screening process, you must ask all the applicants some questions that will help you to find out whether the candidate is not a proper fit for your rental property.

All these questions will help both you and your tenants to understand the individual’s expectations. You both will be able to check whether your expectations are aligned with each other or not.

Now, let’s have a look at those questions. 

  • When would you like to move in?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • How many people are going to live in the house?
  • Will your present landlord give you a good recommendation? 
  • What is your monthly income? 
  • Have you ever been evicted?
  • Have you ever broken any of your rental agreements?
  • Do you hold any recent bankruptcies?
  • Will there be any type of issue with your background check? 

2nd Step: Collect Tenant Information 

Once you are done with all those questions and want to take it forward, you need to make your tenants fill out a rental application form. The application must include all the basic information, depending on which you will make your decision.

It also should include those types of information, using which you will be able to run a background check online, along with basic contact information, such as phone number and email.

You should collect the following information. 

  • Their last address and landlord.
  • Contact information of the previous landlord.
  • The name of the individuals with whom the tenant is going to live.
  • The workplace details of the individual.
  • Details information about their history.

3rd Step: Conduct A Background Check

Now, you need to choose an outside service and run a background check. While doing this, you need to emphasize the 3 major things, which are described below.

Credit History

The credit report of the tenant will help you to understand whether the individual has a habit of late payments, owes any money to the credit card companies, or whether they have been sent to collections.

Some particular states also allow landlords to charge the tenants a fee for checking their credit scores. On the other hand, some credit check services directly charge the tenant for the report. After that, the tenant provides landlords access to the website to check credit reports.

Although these types of services are legal in many states, one should still have consent from the federal law as per the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Eviction History

When you check the previous eviction history of the tenant, it will help you to understand whether the tenant has any previous issues with paying their rent or had any previous issues in previous rentals.

Generally, an eviction status on the record of the tenant for 7 years. In case you find any evidence of eviction, this is a red flag for you to stay away from those types of tenants.

Usually, tenant screening services do a national scan for eviction records on an applicant; you also can look within a state’s civil court records for previous eviction records.

Criminal History

Last but not least, a background check will always help you to uncover any evidence of criminal history that can be related to any housing issues or any other. As an arrest does not imply guilt, a landlord can’t discriminate against a potential tenant only for an arrest.

Here, a relevant felony conviction is indeed a red flag, which is likely to be taken into account because this can imply that, in this case, the safety of the neighborhood is at risk apart from the rental property.

4th Step: Conduct Reference Checks

A tenant screening and background check service can actually offer a lot of useful pieces of information. However, they will not give you a complete picture. You need to spend some extra minutes on the phone by talking with a few key people who will be able to assist you in filling those gaps.

Talk To A Past Landlord

There is a high chance that someone else might pretend to be a landlord, but you should do it. On the line, in case you get the real landlord, you might get to know some interesting information.

Ask the landlord the following things.  

  • Whether the tenant was destructive, disruptive, or noisy.
  • The reason why the tenant is moving out.

Only a personal conversion can give you an idea about all these things.

Talk To Their Boss

The boss of your tenant might not tell you anything more than whether the individual actually works in the company or not. But, coincidentally, some bosses might offer you more information. They will be able to tell you how the individual is as a person.

An employee, who has a great work ethic, will most likely have a great payment ethic too. That does not mean an employee with a bad work ethic will be a bad tenant. Still, you can consider this one.

Talk To The Potential Tenant

In case you find out anything wrong or suspicious about a tenant, a direct talk with the individual will give them an opportunity to explain those things. Often landlords just skip the things they find out in screening after hearing the tenants’ stories.

In addition to that, once you meet the tenants personally, it will help you to understand their attitude. As a landlord, you will get to understand what it will be like to deal with them on a daily basis.

5th Step: Review And Analyze Information

Once you are done collecting all the information pieces on a tenant, you are also required to analyze them. Here is a list of the particular criteria you need to follow in this case.

  1. Rent To Income Ratio: This rate ideally should be 30% or less of their income. 
  2. Rental History: The applicants must have a verifiable mortgage or rent history of a year or more than that. Here you need to consider a non-relative source. In case the time duration is less than one year, you should go for a co-signer on the lease. 
  3. Credit Score: the credit score should have at least 600 or more than that. 

These are the basic things you need to keep in mind. Still, depending on the situation of the landlord and the quality of the rental property, and the overall standard, these criteria can vary.

6th Step: Respond To Applicants 

Now that you are also done analyzing all those pieces of information, it is time to make a decision about whether you want to accept the application or reject it. In both cases, you should inform the applicant about your decision.

Along with letting them know your decision, you must share why you are rejecting them in case that is the scenario. This is extremely important in order to reduce the chances of any complaint of illegal discrimination. The best is to share the screening criteria with the applicants at the start.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

In case you are a new landlord and searching for your first-ever tenant, you will have a lot of questions in your mind. Keeping all those things in proper places becomes really challenging. So, here are some most common questions landlords often encounter.

Q1: What Is Tenant Screening Service?

As a landlord, the last thing you will want is to bring an unqualified tenant into your property. That is why you should perform a tenant screening. These will ensure that you are picking up the most suitable tenant for your property.

This is indeed a tough job. If you think that you will not be able to handle all those, you can opt for a third party who will do the necessary things for the things that we have mentioned above on your behalf and give you the ultimate report.

On the basis of the report, you will be able to make your decisions.

Q2: What Does A Tenant Screening Report Mean?

A screening report offers a landlord some comprehension of how the individual who has applied will perform as a tenant on the basis of their history. For example, the landlord will get to know whether the individual will be able to pay the rent in time and have financial stability.

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