As a property manager and landlord, I have learned that screening can be the most important element in owning a rental property. Picking the right tenant on paper and in character sets the tone for the next 12-24 months for your investment. This means if you have a great tenant with a smooth system in place, you will have an easier relationship with your property manager, easier time self-managing, and/or you will stay motivated to continue to invest in more passive income generating properties.
In realizing how big the leasing/screening step is, we maximize our marketing efforts to make sure we have the exposure to reach the top tier tenants we want to attract. Once we get them through our units and they love our homes, we then swoop in with our screening process that sniffs out red flags and brings truths to the service to eliminate junk applicants fast.
Below is 10 key components to our screening process that we complete with every applicant.
10 Not-So-Obvious Ways to Thoroughly Screen Potential Tenants
1. Request cleared past rent checks.
Since applicants can put anyone down under their previous landlords contact, we came up with the idea to request the most recent three cleared rent checks, front and back. This is assuming they are currently renting. These cleared check copies tells us the following:
- Who they are writing their checks to.
- If the amount matches what they say they are paying and if the amount is the same each month.
- What day the checks are clearing in the bank. If they are clearing by the 5-8th each month, it is safe to say they paying on or close to the first.
In this day and age with paying through online tenant portals, we request an online payment history and the matching bank statements to line up.
When a tenant says they pay cash, that is a red flag and we request the bank statements that reflect the withdraws, which is usually the end of that applicant.
2. Check the tax records.
You can check the tax records to verify the records of landlord provided by the tenant. But if the tenant says that they have been writing checks, it should raise red flags.
3. Obtain an eviction report.
This is the best thing that has happened to landlords in the last decade when it comes to screening. With the help of most of the screening companies or online through the county you live in, it is now easy to see if an applicant has ever been filed on for eviction. You can find judgements on credit reports with this, but most landlords never take it that far, so that applicant’s next three landlords would not realize they were less than perfect tenants until it was too late.
4. Get pictures of pets.
Request recent, clear picture of all pets. This will prevent the 35 lb lab mix from becoming the 80 lb pit bull at move in. Pets are not always a bad thing,…