7 tips on how to properly screen your prospective tenants

Most of your tenant problems can be eliminated in the screening process. You might find it difficult to relax when you have vacancies in your properties or tenants stop paying, so finding the most reliable tenants is extremely important. Getting your property rented is the main idea, right? From now on, lets say -getting it rented to a properly qualified tenant is the main idea.

From the very first contact with the tenant, the screening process has begun. Whether you are the landlord, real estate agent or property manager, the same still holds true.

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Below are 7 tips for properly qualifying your tenants before approval.

1- Develop a paper application to offer prospective tenants, which should include spaces for each tenant-applicants full name, date of birth, current address and Social Security number. Also, include spaces for rental history, employment history, income and personal references. Make sure you disclose you will be using this information to perform a background and/or credit check, and leave a space at the bottom for the applicants signature. Have each prospective tenant complete and sign a copy of this application.

2- Conduct an online search on each tenant using your favorite search engine. For now, search only for a tenants first and last name in quotes. Look specifically for social networking profiles, blogs and websites in the tenants name. If you find any public information, feel free to review it to develop a better sense of the prospective tenants character and personality. Remove applicants who are not a suitable match for your property at this phase. Note that some applicants may privatize their online information, or they may not keep any online profiles at all. If this is the case, skip this step.

3- Perform a background check on each prospective tenant. There are dozens of background-checking services available online, some specifically for landlords. You can also conduct your own background check by contacting the local police department or court system where the tenant currently resides to find information about past arrests, criminal charges and other activities, although this will take substantially more time. Note that your state may prohibit you from refusing a prospective tenant for having a criminal background. Check your state landlord/tenancy laws to learn more about what you can and cannot use to form your final decision.


4- Perform a credit check on any applicants who survive the first two phases. You can simply fill out the information here, and receive the results instantaneously.

5- Verify each prospective tenants income and employment. You can simply run an employment verification check with us to get all the results instantly and accurately.

6- Contact each tenants personal references, as listed on the application. Conduct short telephone interviews with each reference and ask questions about the tenants personality, character and reliability. For past landlord references, inquire about the tenants payment history, how well the tenant kept the unit and the reason why the tenant left the property.

7- Invite each prospective tenant to an in-person interview. You can do this under the guise of a property tour, which may give you even more insight into each applicants genuine character, as they will not be aware that you are actively screening them in the process. During the tour/interview, ask questions about why the tenant wants to move, why she chose your property and why she wants to move in. Also pay attention to the tenants appearance, personality, behavior and how she interacts with you and others on the premises, such as other established tenants.