What You Need to Know Before You Show a Rental Property

by Chris on October 15, 2012

Filling a vacancy is hard enough without wasting time and energy on applicants who aren’t going to work out. 

Here are some policies that can save time, money, and help keep landlords safe when showing rental properties.

Narrow Down the Prospects

It is crucial to prequalify and prescreen rental applicants before they tour a property.  Otherwise, a landlord risks wasting precious time, and extending the vacancy. 

Asking some simple questions over the phone can reveal the tenant’s rental history:

Why are you moving?  Look for signs of a pending landlord dispute.

When are you planning to move? If the answer is mid-lease, that’s a problem.

Can you provide a reference from your current landlord?  An advanced technique is to ask for the landlord’s name, and later compare that to the rental application.  Did this applicant give you the name of a previous landlord rather than the current landlord?

Will you pass a tenant background check?

Can you abide by the rules — for example, Do you smoke?, Do you have pets?

Develop a checklist of questions that you read off each time to avoid allegations of discrimination, and keep notes to compare against tenant screening reports before you agree to lease.

Safety First

It is very important to meet a prospect off-site first, and to ask for a photo ID.  A good practice is to record info about the person’s identity and either leave the information at the office, or send it to an email account.

Take some common sense precautions no matter how “nice” the applicant appears. For instance, make sure someone knows where you are, or keep your cellphone on with someone on the line.  Don’t ride in the same car as the applicant.  Don’t park in the driveway of the rental property where the applicant can block your exit.  Keep the window coverings open and the lights on. Stay in the property only long enough to show it — then move back into a more public area to finish the meeting.

Avoid Surprises

If the property is vacant, check in routinely to make sure there are no surprises lurking.  If possible, arrive before the prospect or come by earlier in the day for a walk-around to make certain everything is in “show” condition. If it’s not, consider postponing the tour.

If you are showing an occupied property, be sure to give your tenant the appropriate notice, and come by early to check in with the tenant and take a quick look at the property before the prospect arrives. 

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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