Renting out your property can be a scary proposition. You’re trusting a total stranger with an asset that costs several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perhaps you’ve had a tenant that stopped paying rent. Here are seven tips for tenant screening that will help you weed through the undesirable applicants and choose the winners.
Tenant Screening Tips
Talk to the Applicant
Have a conversation with potential renters, either on the phone or in person. You want to let them talk about themselves and their history. Let them ask you questions. There is only so much information you can find out from a paper application. Get to know your tenants.
Run Credit Reports
You can find lots of information from a credit score. As a whole, it lets you know how financially responsible the person is. Do they pay their bills on time? How much debt do they carry? You can see if they owe other landlords money.
Verify Prior Residences
This is important because you don’t want to be stuck with someone else’s bad apple. Before someone moves into your San Diego rental property, find out if they caused damage to other properties or didn’t pay rent on time. There’s a lot of valuable information you can find out from other owners. Not too long ago, someone applied for one of our properties and neglected to mention their last address. We caught them because addresses are shown on credit reports. That application was denied due to false information.
Conduct an Internet Search
Do an internet search on all applicants over 18 years of age. You’d be surprised how much information you can find online. Facebook and Google are good places to start screening tenants. With more information on your prospective residents, you can make a decision on whether to rent to them. Take a look at what they do in their free time. Are there pictures of them drinking beer or studying?
Verify Employment and Income
Your tenant screening should always include asking for pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns to verify that prospective tenants earn enough to pay rent in full and on time every month.
Check Criminal History
Run a full criminal background check on any applicants. There are fair housing laws about denying applicants with a criminal history, so perform your risk assessment prior to renting.
Verify the Applicants Living at the Property
Make sure the people you are renting to are the actual people who will be living at the property. Be careful with Airbnb-type of subleasing where a person signs a one-year lease and then subleases to vacationers. You want to know who will be living there. Don’t rent a one bedroom apartment to an entire family. Check everyone out, and make sure you know who is living there.