Today, we wanted to discuss 10 steps to effectively screen your application with minimal issues and find the best applicant. There are no fool proof ways to screen tenants, but these steps will hep you mitigate chances of accepting tenants who will not pay rent.
1) Have prospective tenants fill out a written or online application– realtors and licensed property managers usually have access to forms that applicants fill out in a written manner. It is easier to detect inconsistencies and issues when reviewing a written application.
2) Clear Eligibility Requirements-Realtors and landlords should have clearly written guidelines on what you are looking for a tenant. Realtors and property managers should be aware that this is the law in the state of Texas.
3) Review Criminal Convictions– HUD states that you cannot deny based on arrest, but you can evaluate convictions. This is due to “disparate impact” that proponents argue targets minorities. Therefore, managers and realtors should have ways to review criminal convictions not just arrest.
4) Review judgements for evictions, bankruptcy, foreclosures– Credit scores can be skewed by using legal protections to discharge debts,etc. Therefore, reviewing the applicants judgements may give insight into issues that tenant prospects have had meeting their obligations over the past years. Property Managers shoud know a idea of how many years that they want to have good rental history so this may help provide context as to why applicants have limited rental history.
5) Try to interview current and past landlords- Since property management firms and landlords need to gain better insight into how tenants will take care of your home. This means reaching out to interview them.
6) Try to obtain copy of current lease- There are times when a current landlord is unvailable. If you can get a copy of the current lease, then you can review contact information, terms,etc. Hopefully, you can confirm lease terms, rent, and owner contact information to match to what was provided in application.
7) Scan credit reports for issues on the report– If you can obtain credit report, then the landlord or property manager can scan to see if there are any amounts from places that look like apartment complexes to possibly detect damages or broken lease issues. You can also see in reports that there are other report addresses to confirm addresses provided.
8) Request copies of paycheck stubs– obtaining a few paychecks (we request 2 months) to help you identify if pay fluctuates or is it steady. It also allows land lords and management companies to verify employment information provided in the application.
9) Obtain pictures of animals- Do you accept pit bulls? Many owners will say no, but they may not realize that a more formal name for a pit bull is “staffordshire terrier”. By obtaining pictures, you and your owners can better understand what kind of animals a tenant may have with them.
10) Run applications on everyone over 18 years of age– If you have adults living in a home, you should know their criminal background and potentially rental history. What if a applicant who would be a occupant destroyed a previous residence? Without screening all adults that will live at the home, then you expose yourself to same risk of putting in bad tenants.