The newsLINK Group - Screening Tenants

Editorial Library Category: Multi-Family & Property Management Topics: Tenant Screening Title: Screening Tenants Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: If you check out the reviews for everything from restaurants and movies to the next book you plan to read, it only makes sense to also screen tenants before allowing them to move into the apartment complex you manage. Editorial: Screening Tenants 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 2 d. As you look at contact information for previous landlords, are there gaps? Is any contact information missing? e. Does the tenant have pets? How many? f. How many people will actually be in the apartment? g. Are there personal references with contact information? How long has the potential tenant known the reference? 2. Run a credit check. You want to see the credit history and get some idea about the size of any current debt. Look at the overall history. Bankruptcy is obviously more serious than a missed payment or two. 3. Order an online screening check that covers evictions, public records, and criminal records. (Refer to the following section for more information.) You can easily do an online search to find one. What should you be concerned about? a. Evictions. You may want to find out what the circumstances were. b. A serious criminal record. If someone’s past seems like this person could put you or your tenants in danger, maybe you should pass. c. Patterns of nonpayment. Has the person been sued for unpaid rent or unpaid child support? 4. Call one or more former landlords. You need to be careful what you ask (you don’t want to invade someone else’s privacy), but there are still good questions to ask: a. Does the prospective tenant owe the landlord any money? b. Was there a history of late payments? c. Was there any serious damage to the rental? d. Were there serious problems with the potential tenant, such as problems with the neighbors? e. Did the tenant qualify to have the security deposit returned? f. Would the former landlord rent to this tenant again if the tenant wanted to come back? 5. Call the prospective tenant’s employer. The employer might not be willing to do more than verify employment. If that’s the case, or you don’t want to call, you can ask the potential tenant for a recent paystub. 6. Interview the prospective tenant. If you were focused on the rental when you met the prospective tenant, you might want to follow up with a phone interview. Avoid any questions where you might be accused of discrimination. You know the protected areas: color, disability, family status, where someone was born, race, religion, or sex. You can ask about pets (How old are they? Are they housebroken?), plans about finding a roommate, whether someone works the night shift or unusual hours, smoking (if yes, then indoors or only outdoors?), and whether friends and relatives are likely to stay over very often. Internet Screening Services Choose a screening service that offers one or more of the following: Credit Public Eviction Criminal At a minimum, you should probably be checking public records, records for court filings, and credit ratings. Why do you want to look at court filings? They are what you need to see to verify that a previous landlord hasn’t found it necessary to take court action against an individual. Whether you decide to do a criminal check as well is more subjective. Decide whether to do a criminal check based on the type of rental involved, state requirements, and your lawyer’s recommendation. When you are deciding on a system to screen potential tenants, look for web-based systems that have mobile apps so that if you find someone who seems to be a good fit, you can quickly screen the tenant on the spot, offer the rental,