How to Screen your Potential Tenants?
Tips to guide a landlord on choosing tenants that will not give you a hard time
It means almost everything for a landlord to either have good or bad renters. A good tenant can is a landlord’s dream and can save him all the time and effort. While having a bad tenant could be hell. It is always a good idea to keep looking for signs that signal something wrong about a potential tenant. These signs are not that easy to spot though, and in some cases are just impossible to do so. The best idea might be to hire professional help, and that means hiring tenant screening services. But, if you do not have the money to do so, there are still ways to make sure you will not be letting a psychopath live in your property.
First off, you have to rely on your instincts if you want to turn down a potential tenant on the get-go. Sure, instinct can play a part in selecting your next tenant, but even years and years of experience will not let you see through everyone. In fact, seasoned renters will often blow past interview-only screening tests in a flash.
There are a few tips and tricks when trying to figure out what kind of potential tenant you are looking at. This article will discuss some of the tips to weed out problem renters.
Make them fill out a comprehensive application form.
This seems simplistic, or should I say a no-brainer. Though most landlords already do this, there is a reason why this is number one in our list. Making an applicant fill out a form of mostly redundant information is still of the utmost important. A quick glance at these forms, along with all the necessary documents will allow you to see any discrepancies which could mean that the potential renter is trying to hide something. If you want to take it to the next level, you may also ask the potential renter to write you an application form detailing their intention and their past experiences in renting.
Ask them for their references.
Another important part of a written application form is the section where a potential renter is asked to write his/her references. At the minimum, you should at least ask them to write three. These should be people with that are neither have too casual or too close of a relationship with the potential renter. This means that family members and/or close friends are exempted. As well as casual relationships like with former coworkers or classmates.
The best reference for sure is former landlords and landladies. If you contact them and they start raving about their former tenant, then you would know that you have a good one. You should be wary if they are only acting for the benefit of your renter though. A good warning sign is if the review is maybe too good.
Do not discriminate.
There are many safeguards that the government has put in place to ensure that potential renters are treated fairly and not being discriminated against. In the US, they call this the Fair Housing Act or FHA. These are a set of rules that govern how a landlord/landlady should treat each one of his/her potential tenants equally regardless of ethnicity, nationality, religion or gender orientation.
There are many ways to ensure that you will not break any laws. The best way is to hire someone else like professional tenant screening services to choose the tenant for you. This way, they can choose your potential tenants without your own personal bias. You can also set up blind interviews where you just look at basic information about them like age and testimonies then hire them based on that.
In today’s climate of discrimination and hate, the government will crack down hard on the slightest whiff of racism or sexism. It is best to not test that and lose your right to lease property altogether.
Ask for tangible proofs of identities.
Unless your potential tenant is a secret spy, he/she will not have enough time, or expertise to falsify documents just to be your tenant. There are fairly basic identifications that you can demand from a potential renter such as voter’s ID, license IDs, passports, company IDs, and even more complicated ones like birth certificates. Make sure to ask for more than one identification and to only consider state sanctioned ones. That way, there is little chance of letting in an identity thief into your place.
Do a background check.
This is the bread and butter of tenant screening services. A private individual often lacks the necessary skills and time to accurately screen each and every one of his/her potential renters. But if you want to do it on your own, there are some easy ways to do so. First, you have to exhaust all internet searches regarding the person. If the person has done something bad in his/her life in today’s internet age, you will be sure to find a photo or two somewhere doing that exact same thing. Next is by calling the places he/she said he has gone to. For instance, if he claims to have graduated in a particular university. Call the registrar there to make sure that he/she is telling the truth. You can also call his/her workplace. And most importantly, you have to call his/her former landladies/landlords.
Do not, however, do background checks bordering on stalking. This is technically illegal and could land you more trouble than it’s worth. Also, do not call any of his/her relatives or friends you have found online unless you have his/her consent.
It is truly a tricky job to get your perfect tenants. Sometimes, you will feel that you are stuck with the whomever gets to you first. This sets a dangerous precedent. However, if you know about the horror tenant stories, you would gladly screen your tenants as thoroughly as possible.