The vast majority of your tenant relationships will be respectful ones with few bumps along the way. But if you aren’t careful, you’ll likely have one or two difficult relationships that will end up filling the majority of your time. To keep destructive tenant relationships out of your property so you can use your time to focus on more important things, tenant screening is of utmost importance. We’ve compiled a few screening and decision-making tips to help you.
Before inviting a potential tenant to look at your property, ask a few questions over the phone to save everyone some time. These questions should be your deal breaker questions and could include questions about pets, smoking, and salary. If the potential tenant’s answers don’t fit your policy, like if they own an exotic pet, you don’t have to waste your time and theirs by showing the property.
If the potential tenant passes the pre-qualifying test, invite them to see the property. During this interaction, make sure your personalities mesh well. But whether they do or not, offer the same application to everyone who sees the property so you aren’t accused of discrimination. The rental application should ask for name, contact information, Social Security number, bank information, employment information, and landlord and personal references. It should also include the address of the property to be rented and its monthly rent. Make sure the application asked for permission to perform a background check.
Once you have the application, first check the person’s rental history. It is a good idea to call that person’s previous landlord rather than his or her current landlord who might be motivated to get rid of an unfavorable tenant. Next, contact the potential renter’s employer. Finally, run a credit report, keeping an eye out for eviction history or a pattern of late bill payment.
After you’ve gathered all of your information, run it through an established scoring system that assigns points based on salary information, references, and credit score. The person with the most number of points gets the apartment. Choosing tenants this way ensures that you’re not acting with bias of any kind and will protect you if you’re accused of discrimination.
Of course there are always surprises when dealing with tenants, but having a clear-cut method of screening tenants should go a long way toward helping you rent to responsible people with whom you can have friendly relationships.
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