by Angela Colley
With a good tenant, you can sleep easy at night as a landlord knowing the rent will get paid and the property will stay relatively undamaged. With a bad tenant, on the other hand, you’re left to wonder about the state of your investment while fielding calls from angry neighbors.
The problem is that any prospective tenant can act like the best tenant in the world during the initial walk-through. But if you want to make sure you’re getting the best renter, it’s important to screen every prospective tenant thoroughly before allowing them to sign a lease.
You have two choices when it comes to finding a new tenant for your rental property. You can hire a rental property management company to do the work for you (i.e. they take a cut off the top), or you can keep your money and find new tenants yourself. Personally, since I’m both cheap and a little greedy, I would choose the latter and screen my own tenants. Screening a tenant isn’t too difficult or costly if you follow the right steps.
Screening Potential Tenants
1. Request an Application
Start by having every prospective tenant complete an application. You can get a sample rental application from your local real
estate association, create your own personalized rental application using a Microsoft Office template, or use one of the application forms available online through Tenant Data or On-Site.
Make sure the application you choose covers everything you need to know about a tenant. For best results, choose an application that encompasses financial information, employment information, and personal information. Make sure the application plainly states that a background check, criminal history report, or credit check will be ordered if appropriate, and that the prospective tenant is granting authorization for a check into his or her financial, employment, and personal history.