How to Prequalify Tenants Before You Waste Time, Money

by Chris on August 30, 2010

“I have seen most everything, and heard just about every excuse and lie that can be used.”
– Vincent Shanahan, Alpha Omega Property Management

“There is no guaranteed way to ensure anything you receive from prospective tenants is legitimate,” warns experienced rental property manager Vincent Shanahan. “We can only try our very best to gain as much insight as possible, and act swiftly when things take a wrong turn.”

Prior to working as a property manager, Shanahan spent 16 years as a paralegal representing landlords before the courts and boards, and has seen most everything, and heard just about every excuse and lie that can be used in these situations.

He always conducts a preliminary tenant screening over the phone.  “When they call, I want to ensure we are not going to be wasting each other’s time going forward,” he says.  One thing that boggles his mind is the number of calls from people who can’t remember which ad they are responding to.  “I need to find out which ad they saw, or whether it was a for-rent sign in a window. Getting the information you require from some of these callers is like trying to pull eye-teeth.”

During a preliminary tenant screening of a prospective renter, Shanahan will cover things like:

Do you require parking?
Do you have pets?
Do your have children?
Do you smoke?
Are you employed, and if so where?

“These are some of the things I need to ascertain to ensure I am not leading them into something that prohibits pets or smoking, has no parking,  or is outside their budget limit.”

“Sometimes prospects are calling for all the wrong reasons. “You wouldn’t believe how many calls I get from guys stating things like, and I quote, ‘Me and the girlfriend need a pad right away!’  How much time do you think I want to waste on these people?”

Most of the calls Shanahan receives from prospective renters are from local persons seeking accommodations.  “That makes it a bit more manageable to check things out,” he says. 

When dealing with local applicants, Shanahan makes it a point to drive by their current address to see what kind of property it is, and the condition of the exterior overall. Also, when he calls the previous landlords for a reference, he looks for their address so he can verify its validity, and drives by there as well to see what kind of landlord they present themselves as. 

A credit check is always done of course, but Shanahan has found that it is not a total indicator of whether or not the person pays rent on time. “Experience is my strong suit I guess. Reading people comes easy after you’ve spent so much time in the trenches dealing with bad tenants.” 

Vincent G. Shanahan is President of Alpha Omega Property Management in Barrie, Ontario, providing expert property management and consulting services for landlords.  Mr. Shanahan was invited to appear on the television program “Inside Toronto Real Estate”, and is an advocate for landlord rights throughout Ontario.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only). 

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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