When it comes to being a landlord, there are never any guarantees about the type of tenant that will wind up residing in your rental property. However, though you cannot guarantee you will find the ideal tenant, there are measures you can take to help weed out some of the truly unqualified tenants. One of the most effective ways to prevent nightmare tenants is to properly screen applicants. Unfortunately, not all tenant screening is equally valuable. Some of the following common mistakes made in the tenant screening process can cause your screening process to fail.
Skipping The Screening Process
One of the biggest mistakes landlords make is to simply skip the tenant screening process entirely. Perhaps the person who applied for your property seems ideal. You feel like they are a perfect fit, and you deem the screening process unnecessary. Although you may wish to expediate the process by skipping the step of screening, you can wind up putting yourself at a higher risk in doing so. Finding out details about the applicant’s criminal, credit, and eviction history can shed important light upon the likelihood they will be a good tenant. Never skip this step, no matter how ideal a tenant seems. The screening report will provide you with invaluable information that will go a long way in aiding you in the decision making process.
Not Screening Every Applicant
If you have multiple people interested in your property who will be moving in together, such as roommates or couples, you may think screening one applicant is enough. However, it is always wise to screen every applicant that is over the age of 18. Often, if a potential tenant has something negative on their record, such as poor credit, outstanding debts, or evictions, they will have a co-applicant with a clean background fill out the tenant screening application. This will leave you at a higher risk when you take on both the tenant with the sterling background and the tenant with the bad credit and eviction history. It is better to play it safe, and make sure you know the most possible about everyone who will be residing in your rental.
Not Getting The Full Picture
Another mistake many landlords make is to not get a full picture with an array of reports. It is best to run a screening process that includes:
- A credit report
- A criminal background report
- An eviction history
When you only run one of these types of reports, you might not have the full picture. For example, just because someone has a spotless criminal background does not preclude them from having terrible credit and outstanding debts. It is important to note, whatever reports you decide to require for the tenant screening process, ensure you keep the process uniform. Do not require some applicants to go through one report and others to go through all three. Make a standard and stick to it, or you could be in violation of the Fair Housing Act. This leads us to the next mistake.
Being In Violation Of The Fair Housing Act
While you are allowed to screen tenants and turn down applicants based on things like poor credit, insufficient finances, and other factors, there are some items that are off limits. If you have not reviewed the Fair Housing Act recently, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the regulations. Beyond just the federal regulations, you should make sure you are familiar with the local regulations in place. When you screen tenants, make sure you are using the same process for everyone. Make sure your criteria for choosing a tenant is fair, well-documented, and nondiscriminatory.
Not Implementing Free Screening Options
As a landlord, the last thing you need is to tack on extra costs for every applicant you screen. One of the reasons some landlords skip the screening process is due to cost. However, the good news is that free options exist. If you want to run a criminal background check, a credit report, and an eviction history, you can implement a landlord software like TurboTenant to do so, at zero cost to you. The applicants will pay for the screening reports with a one time application fee. Not only does this prevent you from spending copious amounts of money on screening reports, it will also weed out the less serious applicants.
Those who are willing to pay for their screening report are not only serious about the property, they are also generally a higher quality applicant. Someone who knows they have terrible credit and evictions on their record will be less likely to want to pay for the application process, saving you the hassle of dealing with an unqualified tenant. Not only does the free online tenant screening process save you time and money, it also means you are not responsible for handling private information during the application process. Instead, everything is done through a secure system, never requiring applicants to provide their social security number to you, or other sensitive information.
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TurboTenant is revolutionizing the rental process by providing savvy landlords with cutting-edge technology that’s intuitive, powerful, fast and free. Through one-click online rental marketing, fully integrated tenant screening, customizable property websites and online rent payments, TurboTenant is changing the way landlords manage property. Sign up for TurboTenant today and see how our free landlord software will simplify your life.