October 23, 2017
Tagged in: Tenant Screening

As a landlord, one of your top goals will be to find an ideal tenant. While you may see a lot of interest your rental, you need to ensure you find a high-quality tenant who will pay their rent on time and take responsibility for the property.

The question then becomes, how do you find a quality tenant? Check out these five quick tips for finding the right tenant for your property.

#1: Check Their Credit History

One of the first places you will want to begin when choosing a tenant is with their credit history. While different rental properties will dictate different criteria, (e.g. a cheap rental in a less desirable part of time might call for a lower credit standard than for a luxury property) you should have a credit score criteria pre-set before you begin screening.

Many landlords opt for a credit score of 600 or more. Beyond just looking at the score number, you should also read over their history of late or delinquent payments, bankruptcies, collections, or extremely high unpaid balances.

Be aware that if you deny an applicant based off of their credit report there are certain Fair Credit Reporting Act guidelines you need to follow.  Use an online service to pull credit at no cost to you, the landlord.

#2: Utilize A Background Check

Not only should you pull a credit history when you screen your tenants, you should also utilize a background check to learn more about the applicant. A background check will alert you to what type of person the applicant is.

While it is completely legal in most places to choose to reject an applicant with a criminal history, you should be aware that the laws are complex in some locations. For example, in Seattle, Washington, the city has banned landlords from checking a person’s criminal history. Be sure you look into local regulations before you use a criminal history to reject an applicant.

#3: Determine A Pet Policy

When it comes to choosing the right tenant for your property, a big consideration will be determining a pet policy. Make sure you state your policy up front and choose tenants accordingly.

In competitive markets, having a pet-friendly rental will go a long way in securing a responsible tenant. If you do choose to accept pets, be sure to get information from the applicants about their pets. In the case of a dog-friendly rental, you can even ask to meet the dogs in order to see how well the applicants handle their animals.

It takes a little extra work upfront on your part to choose a responsible pet-owner but by offering pet-friendly rentals you can find tenants who will be long-term, happy renters.

#4: Look For Non-Smokers

Smoking can have a long-lasting effect on your rental property, even after smokers move out. If tenants smoke inside the unit, it can be nearly impossible to get the smell of smoke out of the walls and carpet.

While you can ask tenants who smoke to do so only outside, this becomes difficult to police. It is easier to simply create a no-smoking policy and only rent to non-smokers. Smokers are not protected by Fair Housing Laws, so it is fine to deny an applicant based upon their smoking habits.

#5: Reach Out To References

During the application process it is a good idea to ask for references from prospective tenants. Request information for past landlords, employers, as well as personal and/or professional references.

Be sure to actually reach out to these references and learn more about the applicant. If someone refuses to provide you with references, this should be taken as a red flag. By contacting references, you can find out what type of tenant and employee your applicant has been. If you receive bad feedback, particularly from previous landlords, it is a good indication you should walk away.

By following these steps, you can find the right tenant for you. A long-term, responsible tenant equals a greater profit for you.

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