How much will your home rent for?
Screening tenants is one of the most important jobs of any landlord or property manager. Placing good tenants will have a huge impact on the type of rental experience you have. You’re looking for tenants who will pay rent on time, help you take care of your property, and follow the terms of your rental agreement. You also want someone who will stay in place for a long time and be easy to communicate with.
Today, we’re talking about some of the things you can do to ensure you’re screening applicants effectively. These are the best practices for screening tenants in Manhattan Beach.
Provide a Complete Application
Your application needs to be filled out by all adults (18 years of age and older) who will live in the property. Make sure it’s an application that collects pertinent data and authorizes you to check things such as credit history and criminal background. Before providing an application, you should give your prospective tenants a copy of your rental criteria. This tells them what you’ll be looking for and what is required for application approval.
Make sure applications and completed and signed, and get a copy of a government-issued I.D. so you can make sure everything matches up.
Screen for Credit and Look for Prior Evictions
It’s important to pull a credit report, and you’ll especially want to look for prior evictions or money owed to landlords or property management companies. A good tenant doesn’t necessarily have to have perfect credit, but you don’t want to see outstanding debts to utility companies or cable companies. Not all evictions will show up on a credit report, so be sure to do a nationwide eviction search before approving a tenant for your home.
Employment and Income Verification
You also want to verify employment and ask for something that documents a tenant’s income. You can collect copies of pay stubs, or ask for tax forms and bank statements if your prospective tenant is self-employed. Call the employers listed on the application so you know the tenants are being truthful about where they work and how long they’ve worked there. When you’re looking at income, make sure the tenant earns enough to pay rent every month. According to best practices, your tenants will earn at least three times the amount of monthly rent.
Talk to Current and Former Landlords
Rental references are an important way to understand how tenants have performed in the past. Ask for the names and contact information for at least two recent landlords, and verify that they are actually landlords or property managers, and not simply family members or friends of the applicants. Once you contact these landlords, ask if the tenant paid rent on time. Verify the dates that the tenants lived in their properties, and discuss whether any damage was left behind and if the terms of the lease agreement were followed. Ask if the landlord would rent to that tenant again.
In addition to these background checks, you’ll also want to look at criminal background. It’s also a good idea to conduct a basic internet search so know who you’re renting your property to. Remember to comply with all fair housing laws. Every applicant must be treated fairly and consistently.
We have numerous tools and resources we use when we’re screening tenants. If you need help, please contact us at South Bay Property Management Pros.