Tenant Screening Tips and Tricks

Have prospect tenant complete and sign an AAR rental application to provide personal and employment information and authorize the landlord or property manager to obtain a credit report and background checks. What’s next?

Fair Housing Laws

Never discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, family status or handicap or source of a person’s income.

Tenancy verification

Do call prior landlords. They are your best, most honest source for information regarding on your prospective tenant. Present landlords, wanting to get rid of bad tenants may not be most objective source for you.

Employment verification

Get HR numbers to verify employment status. We also recommend to consider 6 months a minimum of length of time at job.

Income verification

Get two recent pay stubs and file with the application. For self employed applicant, ask for the most recent 1040 and bank statements.

Revolving debt

Too many people using revolving credit. There is nothing wrong with it except multiple revolving accounts with the balance up to the max of the credit line post some early warning. This monthly due should be considered deduction of the income before applying for the rent/income ratio.

Installment

Most common ones are student loan, auto loan and mortgage. The monthly due should be considered as deduction from the income when it comes to rent/income ratio calculation.   Collections – Take a closer look of those already closed collections and those still opened. Read between lines and it will tell you how the tenant handle their debt.

Eviction record

A red flag. you do not want to get into this ever.

Bankruptcy record

Consider a time frame, perhaps a bankruptcy three or more years ago with good income and good payment record is reasonable.

Criminal record

Do not skip the criminal background check just to save a couple of bucks. You can save yourself a lot of headaches down the road, by spending a few dollars on the front end. The same goes for checking the free sex offender registry. The last thing you need is this kind of problem in one of your rentals.

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