A quality tenant screening can help you avoid problems down the road when making decisions about renting your property. While most landlords know to check for basics like credit scores, there’s a lot more you should be looking into. Many tenant screening services offer a wide variety of background checks that extend beyond the basics.
Why is the tenant screening process so important? Making bad choices with prospective tenants can cost you a lot of money down the road. While evictions are the most extreme example, things like property damage and late rental payments can also add up over time. Not only that, a very noisy or disrespectful tenant can cause other renters to move out, leaving you scrambling to fill units.
If you’re looking to make the best decisions possible when it comes to selecting tenants, we’ll go over some services any quality screening service should provide.
Can They Consistently Make Rent?
A credit score check is obviously vital and almost every tenant screening service offers one. While you should never neglect getting a full credit report from rental applications, there’s a lot more to consider when ensuring your tenants can make rent on time every month.
Eviction reports are among the most important services a tenant screening service should offer. An eviction can be costly, running anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000. When making decisions on tenants, knowing if they have an eviction history is vital.
A bankruptcy check can also help you assess if your tenant is financially responsible, and even able to afford rent. If a tenant has previously filed for bankruptcy, they may have other debts and loans they’re working to pay off.
Opt for a screening service that offers employment verification. This should include getting proof of income like pay stubs or bank statements. In addition to this, look at your tenant’s employment history as a whole. Frequent job changes or gaps between jobs could indicate a tenant may not have a reliable source of income, or may move frequently when switching between jobs.
Keep in mind, not every red flag is grounds to refuse to rent to an applicant. If you notice anything suspicious, talk to your potential tenant first. Sometimes, extenuating circumstances can cause financial difficulties. A history of job loss, bankruptcies, or even evictions does not mean an applicant can’t be a quality tenant in the present.
Are They Safe?
Criminal background checks are very important. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to keep your tenants safe. Renting to someone with a criminal history could be a liability.
A thorough tenant screening service will offer both a National Criminal Database search and a County Criminal Database search. It will also check sources like the National Sex Offenders Registry. If you want to be extra thorough, you can even look into a County Civil Search, which can check to see if your client has ever been sued for anything from contract disputes to nonpayment of goods.
Just like assessing your client’s financial history, be aware not all criminal offenses are an automatic red flag. Minor offenses or offenses from many years ago may not be an indicator of your client’s present character.
Will The Tenant Be Respectful?
This is where services like landlord references and personal references come into play. This can help you spot red flags that aren’t likely to show up on a tenant’s financial history or criminal records. While harder to assess than other aspects of a tenant background check, this is a vital component of a quality tenant screening report.
Is your tenant very noisy? Do they have a history of being messy or leaving garbage out in public spaces, like garages or hallways? Do they have troublesome pets that cause property damage or irritate other residents?
These things won’t show up in your tenant’s credit history, but it’s important you keep an eye out for them. Past landlords and even personal references can attest to a tenant’s general lifestyle and behavior. A disrespectful tenant can both cause costly damage and upset existing tenants.
A basic screening of a client’s current financial situation and credit history is not always enough. If you’re going to invest in a third party service to assist you with screening tenant applicants, invest in a provider that offers as many of the above services as possible. In the long term, avoiding potentially troublesome tenants can save you money.
If you’re looking for a good tenant screening service, PeopleG2’s tenant screening offers credit checks, eviction reports, extensive criminal history searches, and much more. Our programs are customizable to your specific needs, so you can scale up or down as necessary.
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