Late rent. Property damage. Tenant complaints. These problems are more likely to happen to landlords who do not have an effective tenant screening process in place. Fortunately, that’s an easy fix if you follow these steps:
The tenant screening process begins with the rental ad. The way the property is advertised will have everything to do with the type of rental applicants who will apply. Be sure to:
Include enough information for tenants to determine if they meet basic qualification standards; and,
Include a statement “Tenant Background Check Required.”
These simple steps cut down on the number of unqualified calls, and discourage bad tenants — those who can’t pass a tenant background check — from applying in the first place.
Many landlords skip this crucial step in the tenant screening process. To avoid income loss:
Take notes on the initial phone interview with the applicant. You will need to compare this information to the rental application to catch any discrepancies in the applicant’s story;
Ask about the applicant’s basic qualifications, such as sufficient income, ability to follow any limitations like no-smoking, and proposed occupants, and find out why and when the applicant is moving; and,
For safety’s sake, meet the applicant and verify the person’s identity with a photo ID before conducting a property tour.
This prequalification process saves time and discourages bad tenants, as well as those with criminal intent. Also, it may prevent a discrimination claim. That risk increases once the person has toured the property and then is rejected due to a lack of qualifications.
The property tour should be conducted in person. Escort the applicant throughout the property and pay attention to what the applicant tells you. Is it the same story as what they explained on the phone?
The rental application should be viewed as a legal document. In many ways, it is more important than the lease:
The rental application includes a declaration that the information provided by the applicant is true. That is crucial in prosecuting fraud;
The tenant provides consent to the tenant background check; and,
The contact information and personal data provided is useful in collection of any unpaid rent or damage to the property.
Before going further with the tenant background check, review the application and determine if, on the face of it, the applicant is qualified.
Some landlords will start here when running a tenant background check. If previous landlords are unavailable or can’t recommend this tenant, then the tenant is not qualified for the rental, so there is no need to continue with a background check.
Tenant Screening Reports
Tenant screening reports include a credit report, along with eviction and criminal histories. The reports flag any obvious issues such as a prior eviction, and can uncover an intentional omission, like a previous address not listed on the rental application. Do not offer to lease to a tenant who has not passed a tenant background check.
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.