If you own or manage a property for rent to other people, it is important to properly vet prospective tenants. This tenant screening process helps to protect you against people who are likely to damage the property, be delinquent on rent or otherwise cause financial and legal issues. No tenant is going to be perfect; however, the screening process can help reduce the likelihood of trouble in the future.
Ways to Vet Applicants
There are a few ways that you can check up on a tenant before accepting him or her. You can check the applicant’s credit, ask for references and/or get a background check. In most cases, it is best to do all three.
A credit check will help ensure that the applicant has a history of paying bills online. Getting references from prior landlords can give you a sense of whether the individual has been a good tenant in the past. A background check will help ensure that the person has no outstanding legal or other issues that may become a problem for you. It is also a good way to make sure the applicant has been truthful with you.
Whenever possible, meet tenants in person. In addition to the above strategies, this is a good first line of defense against troublesome tenants. Of course, keep in mind that your judgment of people may not be accurate. Therefore, it is best not to rely solely on your own observations.
Tenant Background Checks
Tenant background checks are perhaps the best way to make sure that applicants are who they say they are and are not going to cause major issues as renters. Especially when armed with prior rental history, a backgrounder checker can confirm that the person is likely to pay on time and has not had problems with other landlords.
Plenty of people may seem nice enough when you meet them but have a history that would suggest they would not make good tenants. Having a professional look into them for you is a good way to avoid potential issues.
Background checks include checking the criminal and rental history of the applicant. Without an effective background check, you have no way of knowing whether the potential renter is being truthful about his or her history. For example, the applicant may have previously been evicted for not paying rent.
Discrimination is a very important consideration as a landlord. It is illegal to deny a tenant over them being in a protected class. This includes things like race, gender, age and disabilities. A professional background check is a good way to vet tenants in a fair and legal way. The investigators who perform these checks are very careful about bias and discrimination.
Background checks and other tenant screening techniques cost money. Many landlords recoup this by charging an application fee. This is also a way to ensure that only serious applicants will submit a form.
However, it is important to keep this fee reasonable. Additionally, some states and localities limit the amount you can charge and may have other rules. Make sure you know the laws for the area your property is in.
Other Strategies for Keeping Your Property Safe
Once you have rented the apartment or house to a tenant, you can still take steps to protect your property from damage. Being observant about damage and responding to issues quickly shows your tenants that you are serious. Take notes when there are problems and get damage fixed promptly. When you care about your property, your tenants are more likely to as well.
One way to realize this is to do a walkthrough together before your tenant moves in. This is a mutually-beneficial tactic. It protects the tenant from being on the hook for any prior damage and it shows that you care about keeping your property in good order.
Learn More About Screening Tenants
Tenant screening is a good way to protect yourself against possible financial and legal trouble. Meeting tenants in person is an effective first step in this process. However, that alone is not enough. Tenant background checks performed by an experienced professional are the best way to vet a potential renter while avoiding the risk of discrimination.
Beau Dietl & Associates is an experienced investigative team. We can help you with all your background checking and other information gathering needs. Contact us today to learn more.