Landlords :: Five Rules for Screening Tenants

As a landlord, selecting a qualified tenant is one of the most important steps in the process of getting your home rented. In choosing the right tenant you should expect to receive your rent in full, on time, and that your property will be well kept. On the other hand, a poor or uniformed decision on your part can result in a myriad of problems, including having to make your mortgage payment out of pocket while trying to collect the rent or evicting your tenant.


That said, here are five rules to consider in seeking a tenant (when applying these rules make sure you are working within your state’s rental laws):


1. Establish minimum criteria that every applicant must meet to be accepted including:


-Verifiable income that is at least three times the amount of the rent

-Credit score above 600

-Clean background check with no evictions


2. Require a formal application. This information will be provided to the tenant screening company who will charge you a fee for the report. This charge is passed onto the applicant as the application fee. Collecting the fee up front ensures you are covered for this expense and is your first red flag should they balk about paying it. Always obtain written consent to run a credit report and background check.


3. Get permission to contact current and past landlords as well as employer(s). Current or former landlords and employers may only confirm atenant’s residency or employment, but you can try sending a form asking direct questions that may provide information vital to making informed tenant decisions.


4. While not always practical, you may want to visit a prospective tenant in their current home. This can provide a window into what you may expect from this applicant.


5. Should you turn down an applicant always do it in writing and provide the source, if any, of the information you used to reach that decision. Better rental screening companies will provide a pre-written acceptance or rejection letter to make your job easier.


The key to success in procuring a tenant is your determination to say no when the screening results do not add up. By not letting your emotions affect your decisions and maintaining consistent rental policies you can avoid dealing with a tenant who could become your worst nightmare.


This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

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