Best Tenant Screening Practices
Review the following best practices for safe renting and to ensure you have protected yourself and your asset from unwanted tenants.
1- Rental Application: Give your tenants the proper rental application. The applicant has to give you permission to conduct a background check. Go to: https://f71c57.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/forms/rental-application.pdf and use this application which gives you the proper verbiage.
2- Verify Identity: Ask for two months of pay stubs and examine the driver’s license/picture ID and social security card to make sure you have the right person.
3- Background Check: Conduct a background check through a credit reporting agency that specializes in tenant screening so you can see their credit report and examine their criminal and eviction history.
4- Denial Letter: Always use a formal denial letter instead of verbally rejecting your tenants. The denial letter is created to remove the landlord out of the discussion regarding why tenants are rejected. All you have to do is inform a tenant of their rejection and that their denial letter is in the mail. If you choose to use the credit bureau to screen your tenants, we ask you to use our sample denial letter by going to: https://f71c57.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/forms/denial.doc
5- Formal Tenant Check: Understanding the credit, eviction and criminal reports are difficult at times. Consult your credit reporting agency for the interpretation of the data they give you.
6- Security: Always keep the background check documentation in a locked cabinet for safe keeping. Based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are obligated to keep the credit reports in a secure location. For more information go to: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf
7- Application Fee: You should charge a non-refundable screening fee to be used for a background check.
8- Employer: Verify the employer by calling them yourself or have your credit reporting agency verify the employment for you for a price.
9- Past Landlords: Verify and speak to the tenant’s current and past landlord.
10- Policies and Procedures: Create guidelines specific to your real estate business. They could simply require obtaining a credit score, bankruptcy, two months of check stubs and etc. Think about what is important to you and add those as guidelines. Policies are very useful as they remove the emotional aspect of dealing with tenants, for both tenant and landlord. When confronted with an aggressive tenant, policies and procedure help you stay focused.
11- Number of people residing in the apartment: Ask the current or past landlord about the number of people living in his place and cross reference that with the application.
12- Takes Notes: Make sure you have a note pad available at all times. Start taking notes from the first phone call and the interview. Ask questions and write them down. The notes become very valuable throughout the screening process.
13- Auto Debit: This is the best way to collect rent but you need an official agreement between you and the tenant. You can ask your bank that receives the auto debit for forms to give to your tenants.
Although it can be a tedious process, screening is well worth the effort. Statistically, landlords that screen their tenants properly will have less problems than the landlords that don’t take screening seriously. Good luck! If you have any questions go to: https://thecreditbureau.com/tenant-screening.htm or call 800-518-1077 Extension 4