December 2nd, 2020 | Updated on September 27th, 2021
Finding the perfect tenant is no easy process. After all, you have to clean up after your old tenants, advertise the vacancy, and spend time vetting and interviewing potential new tenants. Finding a new set of renters for your rental is a serious undertaking.
But it’s not a process that you want to rush. To that end, not all renters are created equal—from property damage to late payments, many people cause problems for their landlords.
Fortunately, there are some ways to optimize your application process and ensure that you’re renting to responsible people who will care properly for the unit.
Best Tenant Screening Practices
Read on to learn four tips for finding better renters!
1. Contact Previous Landlords
The best way to gauge a tenant’s habits is by contacting their previous landlords. Even a quick conversation with the owner of their former rental can provide insight to:
- Whether or not they make payments on time
- How well they follow property rules and restrictions
- Their treatment of the space and whether they’re likely to cause damage
Once you’ve spoken to the other landlords, you can determine whether or not the tenant will be a good match for your property.
2. Set Income Requirements
Setting income requirements is an important step to finding the right tenant.
If an applicant doesn’t make enough money, they run the risk of not being able to pay rent. While some jobs can have varying salaries—such as restaurant work or freelancing—a general idea of monthly income should be enough to determine eligibility.
Most landlords require tenants to make three times the property’s rent. While this figure isn’t a hard-and-fast rule—it’s a good guideline to follow because it leaves room for variables without putting rental payments in jeopardy. Obviously, use this on a case-by-case basis.
3. Run A Background Check
To ensure you get a trustworthy and responsible renter, you’ll want to incorporate a background check into the application process.
When a stranger is living on your property, there’s always a risk of the unknown. Utilizing tenant screening services will provide the vital information needed to make a sound decision, such as:
Credit score – An applicant’s credit score can determine how financially responsible they are. A low credit score can be a sign of late or missed payments, which you don’t want when it comes to rent.
Criminal record – If a potential tenant has a criminal record they have neglected to disclose, a background check can reveal this information. This is particularly important in regard to violent and destructive crimes, in order to keep your other tenants (and your property) safe.
Monthly Income – A tenant screening service can verify employment and income. This will help you determine if an applicant meets the requirements you set up with tip #2.
4. Meet With Them
To really get a feel for a potential tenant, try meeting with them in person.
Depending on how many properties you’re renting out, this can take a bit of strategic scheduling. Although you may be busy, making time for an in-person meeting is a great way to get to know applicants on a personal level.
Whether you have a quick chat or a longer meeting, you’ll want to ask some key questions:
- Why are you moving?
- What is important to you in a home?
- Are you a pet owner?
- Do you smoke?
- Can you describe your social life?
- What can I do to provide a hospitable living environment?
While an application will take care of the essentials, there are some things that can only be gathered from a one-on-one conversation. Meeting with potential tenants gives you the opportunity to form your own opinion and trust your gut!
Your Dream Tenant Is Out There
Finding a tenant is a bit like dating—you’re going to meet a lot of people before you find the one. This process may take some time, but don’t give up hope.
The perfect renter is out there, and these tips can help you find them. Just remember to be thorough, have firm requirements, and trust your gut. Good luck!