One of Many: As with any business, there are going to be mistakes. But there’s one mistake in particular that landlords (especially those that are new) will make when managing rental property.
A successful rental property business rests on one essential component (other than the property itself), the tenant. While it seems obvious, many do not fully understand how to screen applicants properly.
Tenant screening is the key to minimizing the likelihood of unpaid rent, property damage, and disturbances. Unfortunately, landlords who do not screen properly risk making the biggest mistake they’ve ever made.
Tenants can easily make or break a rental property (literally). Too often, landlords are so eager to fill their vacancy; they forget the fundamental steps needed to reduce the potential for disaster.
Instead of waiting a few weeks for a better tenant to come along, landlords will sometimes regrettably make an exception for the earliest (but “problematic”) candidate that should have been denied tenancy.
If possible, it’s always best to screen multiple applicants at the same time. This way, the decision making process is much easier when weighing two or more candidates against each other.
Landlords that act out of desperation (or even greed) often suffer unnecessary consequences. So be sure to do the following before approving a tenant:
Ask to See Photo ID: Don’t even consider screening an applicant without inspecting a government issued photo ID. And then be sure to copy down the person’s full legal name, address and date of birth.
Pull a Credit Report: When trying to determine a statistical probability of a future delinquency, this is your best tool, However, always obtain your own copy. You should never allow a tenant to provide his or her credit report.
Search Criminal Records: Whether you pay for a service or try conducting your own court research, a criminal background check is a must for all adult occupants.
Search Eviction Records: Once again, you can either pay for a service or try to research the court filings yourself with the Clerk of the Court. Either way, it’s important to know if a case has ever been filed.
What About References?: Contrary to credit reports, landlord and personal references have always been problematic. You simply don’t know the underlying intentions of the source delivering the information.
Even legitimate individuals and organizations may be reluctant to be candid for fear of legal action. So contact references if you choose, but only use them to corroborate what you already know from reports.