The rental market in the US is booming! Recent reports show that by the end of 2015, 43 Million American’s were renting and there were 599,000 rental households in the Phoenix Metro area alone. This means there are also that many potential renters that you do not want in your home. You often hear of bad tenant stories of damaging homes, stealing appliances and paying rent late every month. This is your investment we are talking about. A home you put hard-earned money into, you have to do as much as possible to protect it.
However, tenant screening is time consuming, frustrating and you could still miss key elements when looking through tenants. If you are screening your own tenants, here are some tips that you should follow:
- Have a Thorough Application Form – Make sure potential tenants fill out your application in its entirety, including signing the document that permits you to run their credit and rental history. Don’t even consider any applicants that refuse. Call all landlord references and run a criminal background check. Tenants may find this too intrusive, but just remember that you’re in control of the rental.
- Be sure you comply with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) – This act enforces the law that you can’t discriminate based on characteristics like religion or race. There’s a code of ethics that the FHA has created for landlords, as well. By following it with every tenant, every time, you’ll be protecting yourself from discrimination lawsuits.
- Meet potential tenants face-to-face – With a busy world and so many transactions now done digitally, a lot of rental deals are all done without the landlord ever meeting the tenant in person. That can be convenient at the time, but it’s also a recipe for risk. By meeting potential tenants in person, you can see in person how they carry themselves. Are they rude and disrespectful? This could raise a red flag. Trust your gut, it can give you a lot of information from that handshake and conversation.
- Be upfront with potential tenants – This should all be in writing, but make sure your tenants know that you will be running an intensive background check on them. Let them know right away what they can and cannot do in your home. A lot of times this will weed out a lot of bad apples just be simply being honest.
This entire process is meant to help you narrow down the list of potential renters. Remember, this is your investment we’re talking about. Set yourself up for a successful experience and avoid having to go through things like evictions by doing your due diligence during this time. By following these screening tenant tips and being an involved landlord, the opportunity to find good tenants is much higher. Nothing is guaranteed, but the goal is to reduce your risk of getting a bad tenant as much as possible.