How to Conduct Foolproof Tenant Screening for the Best Renters

In order to be successful and avoid huge headaches as a landlord, you want to do everything you can to ensure you bring in the best renters. While this isn’t always black and white, there are some great things you can do make your role easier and avoid any bad eggs when it comes to renters.

Here are some of top tips for ensuring you continue to have great tenants:


Be a Picky Landlord

You don’t have to settle for just any tenant—in fact, you shouldn’t! Get all of their details upfront and screen, screen, screen. If you don’t want to do all the work yourself, you can hire a full-service management company to do the background checks, verifying of employment, and  screening for you.

This is really important because even if a tenant seems trustworthy, you might find the opposite. Some will use prior addresses where they didn’t live, will neglect to mention they’ve been evicted, or will list their family or friends as references.

You can even charged tenants an application fee, which may help filter out those who aren’t okay with screening—which is obviously not a good sign.


Contact Past Property Owners

Besides checking out their references and prior addresses, you’ll also want to directly contact past landlords of the potential renter. The problem here can be that some landlords will say good things regardless at the fear of being sued.

Therefore, it’s important to ask the right questions. Here are some examples:

  • How much was your rent? If it’s a lot less than your rent, you should question how they are able to afford a lot more now.
  • Was the whole deposit refunded? If not, it’s a red flag.
  • How long did the renter live at the property? Over two years is a much better sign that a short-term rental.
  • How often did the tenant pay their rent late? If they mention any late payments, be wary. Late payments are a huge headache for a landlord.
  • How many people lived with them? If it’s more people than they mentioned when applying with you, that could raise some questions.


Verify Addresses—Always

Verify the past property owners by using county records. If you have the time, you can even drop by their old address to check it out. Of course, this is pretty impossible if it’s a tenant from another state. In that case, you’ll want to do the full check no matter what: rental history, income, employment, and any potential criminal backgrounds.

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