Screening tenants means increased costs and a few extra steps when you’re trying to fill a vacant rental.
However, we firmly believe that screening tenants is well-worth the cost and wanted to share six reasons why.
In this article:
1. Once Bad Tenants Are In, It’s Hard To Get Them Out
Different states have different regulations and laws relating to eviction. They all have one thing in common: evicting a tenant, regardless of the state you’re in, is complicated and costly.
First, you need to know the reasons you are allowed to evict a tenant in your area. Some common criteria are failing to pay rent, violating specific terms of a lease, using the rental unit for unlawful purposes or if you know they are damaging the unit.
There’s no guarantee these conditions apply to your area, but if you need to evict a tenant, they are the first thing you need to know.
Next comes the paperwork and the courts. You have to file the proper forms with the right authority; otherwise you won’t be able to legally evict them.
2. You Might Have Someone Who Thinks Their Wallet Is Bigger Than It Actually Is
So, you have a really nice unit. It’s pricey and high-end.
A couple shows up. They are well-dressed, drive a nice new car, and are gainfully employed.
You have a choice between this couple and couple number two. The second couple shows up in a late model vehicle, are gainfully employed, but don’t look as polished as the first couple.
Who do you rent to? Based on what you see on the surface, you’d probably think couple number one was your best bet.
However, think about it this way: their lifestyle might not match their income. Maybe their lifestyle was funded by debt and they really don’t have much money. If this is the case, they may be able to afford the pricey rental for a while, but soon their checks might start bouncing – you don’t want that.
Screening people will help give a truer picture of a prospective tenant’s financial situation and can help you see past the surface appearance of potential tenants.
3. Weed Out Job Jumpers
If you are taking applications for a new unit, you will likely get one from someone new to town. They have a new job with an exciting new company and they need a place to rent.
How many times has this person moved to a new town because of a new job? How frequently does he move from place-to-place?
Screening potential tenants includes their employment history. If you see someone who moves from job-to-job a lot; it’s a red flag. Having high tenant turnover means having to go through the cost and burden of finding a new renter far too often. Renting to job jumpers is an easy way to find yourself in this situation.
Don’t get me wrong, just because someone has moved a lot doesn’t mean that will be the case with you – it is a red flag, though. If you see it, ask them more questions. Find out why the left previous jobs, what’s attracting them to the new job, and what they think about your city.
4. You Won’t Get Deadbeats
Not everyone who makes good money pays their bills on time. Some people – for some reason or another – struggle. Their money is constantly late, they have trouble meeting deadlines or they might just all together not pay.
This is another headache because it’s a waste of your money and effort to chase these people down for money.
Running a check on prospective tenants will help you weed these people out.
5. Avoid Hardened Criminals
Not everyone with a criminal record is going to cause you trouble. But, every now and then you’ll screen a tenant who has a long and detailed criminal history. Those are the potential tenants you really want to avoid.
Again, this ultimately comes down to you as the landlord making a judgement call about a person. Your ability to make a decision, however, is directly tied to how much you know. You need to know if someone just had a minor run in with the law when they were young of if they have multiple convictions for serious offenses.
Screen potentials and you’ll be empowered with the knowledge you need to make these kinds of decisions.
6. Prevent Overcrowding
Different places have different rules for how many people are legally allowed to occupy a certain space. You, as a landlord, must make sure your units are not overcrowded. If something were to happen, and someone were to get hurt, you could be held responsible.
Ask people how many individuals – minors and adults – will be living in the unit they want to rent. Some may not be honest and forthright, but others will. If someone is looking to place too many people in an apartment with too little space, you have a couple of options:
Flat out deny their application
If you have other units, find one of appropriate size and show them that place
If you handle the situation properly, you might be able to save a deal and fill a vacant unit.
I’m sure you’ve already had a run in with a bad tenant. It happens and if you are a landlord for a long enough time it’s unavoidable. However, screen potential tenants and you’ll get the information you need to make an informed decision.