Tenant screening is complex, but it’s the key to any landlord’s profitability and rental income. You need to know how to handle it properly and effectively.
Providing an Application
The beginning of your screening process is the application. Get a complete application that collects all the pertinent information. You’ll need names, as well as the applicant’s driver’s license and social security numbers. Then, verify the identity and make actual copies of the identification. You’ll also need to collect employment information and paycheck stubs. For self-employed applicants, ask for three months of bank statements and two years of tax returns.
Running Background Checks
Find a service that can pull credit reports and/or background checks, as well as eviction checks. These are critical things you should have while you’re screening tenants. You don’t want to rent to felons with a history of sex offenses. That will be a liability for you, so background checks matter.
Employment and Income Standards
Make sure prospective tenants are employed and able to pay rent. We check for valid employment, and we require income that is at least three times the rental amount. If your tenant doesn’t earn at least that much, there may be problems with affordability down the road.
Checking Eviction and Rental History
Evictions can be touchy. We don’t like to deny anyone with an eviction in their past, but we never want to see evictions in the last five years. It’s also important to verify a stable rental history for the last five years, or since their eviction. If someone has an eviction on their record but you still want to move forward, there are ways to get extra insurance. For example, you can ask for a larger security deposit – maybe two times the rental amount.
Additional Screening Questions
You should always ask about pets. Some people will want to move in with their pets, so you need to let people know if you don’t accept them. If you do accept pets, you can ask for a pet deposit that's either refundable or non-refundable.