Five Effective Ways of Screening Your New Tenant

Are you renting out your home? Here are some ways you can screen your tenant before accepting them!

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Landlords know potential tenants to occupy their rentals are a dime a dozen, but that does not make them ideal renters who will fulfill their end of a rental agreement and not cause disputes. Too many rental property owners have learned the hard way that not vetting prospective tenants is a recipe for disaster. They have ended up with sitting tenants who do not pay rent, cause undue damage to the property and are a neighborhood nuisance. Getting rid of them is not that easy and involves lengthy court processes and legal fees. The best solution to this problem is not to get into that type of situation in the first place. Landlords can do this by effectively screening tenants before entering a rental relationship. Here is how:

Determine Fair Criteria

Many landlords feel comfortable leaving tenant screening up to qualified property management services in Chattanooga, such as Evernest, Lansford Realty & Property Management, and Kent Property Management, LLC. These are local companies, although some property owners choose to work with larger firms like Bozzuto and Morgan Properties. Evernest prides itself on running a top-notch property management service while still maintaining a finger on the pulse of Chattanooga’s rental market. It also has offices in Nashville, Memphis, and Murfreesboro and operates in other states, such as Alabama, Mississippi, and Colorado. Evernest’s qualified agents are experts at tenant screening and understand how to find ideal renters. Screening tenants starts with a preset criteria list, with the aim being to find a tenant that ticks all the boxes. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against renters based on race, religion, disability, family status, nationality of origin, and sex. Therefore, these cannot form criteria to shortlist potential tenants.

Ascertain Employment Status and Income

Landlords have the right to request an applicant’s paystubs to see what they earn, as this plays a vital role in determining if they can afford the rent. Property owners can verify this data by phoning a potential renter’s employer to ensure they gave accurate information on their application form. If an applicant has only been employed in their current position for a short time, such as less than three months, landlords can request previous employers’ contact details. Prospective tenants should also list other income sources, such as alimony or child support, retirement or investment income, or court-ordered awards and provide supporting documentation as proof. As a rule of thumb, a tenant should earn two or three times the monthly rental amount for it to be affordable. If the rental bill exceeds half their take-home salary, landlords should exercise caution as it might not be sufficient to pay the stipulated amount.

Run Financial Checks

Tenants should list any judgments against them during the application process, including liens, civil adjudications, foreclosures, and bankruptcy. This information could affect their ability to pay rent and is therefore valuable for a landlord to have. Most landlords ask for a breakdown of an applicant’s expenses to see how much income is left after fulfilling other financial obligations. A credit check is also advisable as it provides a picture of how indebted a prospective renter is. Having sufficient income is not helpful if the individual spends most of it servicing outstanding debt. An applicant’s credit history is also an accurate predictor of how they manage debt. Those who have several outstanding debts that they do not keep up with are inclined to behave equally irresponsibly when managing their finances.

Disclosure of Criminal Record

Landlords may refuse to take on tenants with felony convictions. Prospective renters must disclose their criminal records on the application form, although Chattanooga landlords are advised to seek help in verifying it. Only convictions count when evaluating someone’s criminal record before taking them on as a tenant. Arrests, dropped charges, and pending cases cannot be used to reject an application.

Conducting Interviews

An applicant might seem perfect on paper but meeting them in person is essential before entering a rental agreement. Many Chattanooga landlords rely on interviews to make final choices regarding tenants.

Some schools of thought believe that only 7% of communication is done verbally, with the remainder coming from someone’s body language, voice tone or volume, and facial expression. Reading these is only possible when meeting face-to-face. An interview is a final element to determine a prospective tenant’s suitability.