Any landlord, real estate agent, or property manager usually has one primary common goal; to fill vacancies of their properties with a great tenant. But figuring out who is a keeper and who is a problem waiting to happen, is the first step before moving a prospect into your property. Below is a short guideline of how to properly go about a tenant screening.

Step One – Applications/First Contact

Whether you directly speak to a prospect first, usually by phone or email, or request an application, there is key information that should be obtained. Aside from a prospects name and contact information, important things to know are:

*Reasons for moving

*Intended length of rental

*Current and previous employers

*Current income level

*Credit and background check

*Number of potential residents and their relationship to you

*Do they have any pets?

*Do they smoke?

*Previous landlord contact information and references

If a prospect should have any problems providing any of this information, it may be a direct warning that this person is not right for your property.

Step Two – Showing the Property

Depending on whether you prefer to review an application first or are satisfied with previous contact with a prospect, you may wish to meet and show the desired property. This is still part of the tenant screening process and gives you another opportunity to evaluate a prospect. What was their appearance like? Were they clean and well kept? Were they polite and tried to make a good impression? Were they respectful in viewing the property? Were they overly critical about illegitimate concerns, potentially looking for ways to negotiate the price? If you asked them to make a decision on the property after viewing, were they unsure? If so, were they prepared with a deposit or to fill out an application if they had not already?

Observing little details and looking for insight into how a prospective tenant would treat the property may be a big factor beyond the pen and paper requirements for renting your property and should be made note of.

Step Three – Approval and Signing

If you have decided that the individual applying is satisfactory, congratulate them and let them know you have approved their application. It doesn’t hurt to also inform them if you have made any special concessions just for them, like overlooking a small credit infraction. This will let them know that you did indeed thoroughly evaluate them, but think that they would be a great match for your property and would like to have them be your tenant. This is also your opportunity to ensure that the applicant will follow through. Set up the time, place, and, date to sign the lease. Instruct them to bring identification and the proper amount of monies/or preferred method for payment. Inform them that they will not be given possession or keys until any checks have cleared or cash/money orders have been received.

Lastly, thoroughly review the lease with the tenant at the time of signing. Make sure that each of you understands the terms to which you are agreeing and whether they have any discrepancies with the terms of your lease. If the tenant has an issue with late fees, this would show they may have a problem paying on time. Not until you both have signed the lease is the screening process truly over. It would do you much better in the long term to have a great tenant as opposed to filling a vacancy faster.

For more information on our tenant screening process, please visit us here. To contact us directly, please click here.