The type of rental experience you have as a landlord will really depend on the type of tenant you place.
A good tenant who pays rent on time, helps you care for your property, and follows the terms in your lease agreement will provide you with stability and consistent rental income. A tenant who never pays on time, doesn’t really care about the house, and is violating the lease will only cause you headaches and probably cost you money.
The tenant screening process is important, and it must include a thorough and consistent background check.
First - Establish Consistent Rental Criteria
Before you can begin screening applications or approving tenants, you need to establish your standards and put them in writing so you can demonstrate that everyone is undergoing the same scrutiny. While you want your process to be comprehensive, it’s also imperative to follow all fair housing laws.
Your criteria can include what you’re looking for in terms of credit, income, and background. Tenants will know right away whether they have a good chance of being approved. This will save you and your prospective applicants time and money.
What to Include in a Tenant Screening Process
The tenant screening should include all the financial, rental, and criminal history that you need to make a smart decision about who gets approved and who does not.
A good screening process will consist of:
- A credit check. You can establish a particular credit score that an applicant will need, but examine the entire credit report. You’re looking for unpaid utility and housing bills. Those are going to raise red flags more than general medical or student loan debt.
- A criminal background check. We recommend that you conduct a national check. County and local police records are only relevant if the prospective tenant has never lived anywhere else.
- Verification of income and employment. You want to make sure your tenants can afford the monthly rent. Generally, we look for income that’s at least two to three times the total rental/ monthly payments amount. Check with the tenant’s employer or ask for documents like pay stubs or tax forms.
- A check of rental history. Speak to the current and former landlords, and make sure the addresses on the application line up with the addresses you find on the credit report. Your prospective tenant may be trying to hide something to avoid a bad landlord reference.
Verify the identity of your applicant as well. This seems like an easy thing to take for granted. Ask for a copy of government-issued identification such as a driver’s license or passport.
Check for Past Evictions
It’s risky to rent to tenants who have a recent eviction.
Do a thorough eviction check to see if there are any prior evictions/ judgements in the applicant’s rental history. Evicting a tenant is a costly and a time consuming process. Having a consistent and detailed tenant screening process will help in minimizing the need for evictions and financial expense in the future.
These are the best ways to conduct a complete tenant screening check. If you need help with your own tenant screening process or you have any questions about Woodstock, GA property management, please contact us at Clients 1st Property Management.