How to screen tenants for rental properties

Jul , 13
How to screen tenants for rental properties

It is extremely important for landlords to screen tenants for rental units before renting out their property. Landlords can also do credit checks, verify income, confirm employment, conduct criminal background checks, etc in order to ensure that the renter is trustworthy. 

There are a number of steps you can take in order to screen your tenants before renting out your property:

  • Prescreen potential tenants

You need to understand how to screen tenants before they fill out a rental application. You might want to run a criminal background check as part of the application process. You can also check on the application’s social media account to give you a better understanding of your rental applicant’s personality. Also, you can check on the employment details of the applicant on LinkedIn. 

  • Determine what questions to ask potential tenants

Details like income, employment, criminal background, credit, previous eviction and residence history are some of the main points you need to focus on. Asking probing questions will help you to better understand the tenant’s needs. You should be aware of any potential co-applicants. If additional people are going to stay with the applicant (family, siblings, relatives), you need to consider them as co-applicants and check their background too.

  • Screen tenants by checking their credit

By checking on the credit report of a prospective tenant, you get to know if the tenant pays their bills on time. Credit reporting agencies would landlords pulling the credit data to be accredited. It would require an on-site inspection of the inquirer’s office, in order to ensure that the business is legitimate.

  • Run criminal background checks

Along with pulling credit reports, you need to also check the renter’s background whether he/she has any criminal history. You also need to make sure that the reports are correct. Because it wouldn’t be a good idea to deny a tenant for an incorrect report. You need to make sure that the spelling of the names and the previous addresses are correct. There might be times where you might get negative results. In such cases, you can discuss with the prospective tenant the circumstances surrounding the event. 

  • Verify income and employment

It is important to verify if the applicant has a stable job in order to understand if they can afford to pay the rent every month. It is imperative to verify the employment status, job title and salary of the applicant. 

  • Check previous addresses, landlords and eviction history

You will have to verify the previous addresses of the applicant and check on with the previous landlords about the applicant. You would want to check with the previous landlords whether the applicant was prompt with payments, whether the property was properly taken care of, were there any complaints from neighbours with regards to noise, etc. 

  • Interview prospective tenants & co-applicants

Once you collect and verify all the information shared by the tenant, you would want to talk to your tenant over the phone or in a face-to-face meeting. You can ask your doubts and get clarification of any point(s) if any.

  • Accept or reject the applicant after screening

Once you have secured all the information and verified both the income and employment of the tenant, you are now ready to make a decision. You can hand over the keys of your property to your tenant if he/she meets all the prerequisites such as a stable job, regular income, etc. 

When can you deny an applicant after screening a tenant

You can deny an applicant who wants to rent your property if you find that their income can’t support the rent if their credit is too low or their payment history is poor. You can also deny them if you find that they have a criminal history and indicate a potential risk.

What documents to ask from a tenant?

Some important documents to request from a tenant before they move in are:

Identity check

It is imperative to check the renter’s personal details because there is always a risk of forgery.

Residential history

You need to make sure that there are no evictions on the record of the applicant and you need to take a comprehensive reference from their previous landlords. You will be able to find the tenant’s residence history on the rental application form. 

Employment and income details

You need to ask for details of your renter’s job and salary and ensure that they have given the correct information. Some forms you could ask for may include bank statements, court-ordered settlements, employment contracts.

It is imperative that you screen your tenants properly and collect all important documents and information from them in order to be sure that a prospective tenant is a reliable person and that he will pay the rent in a timely manner. 


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