Are you looking for a way to screen your tenants so they are the best fit for your rental property? If so, this article is just what you need. At True Property Managers in Costa Mesa, CA, we’ve screened thousands of potential tenants for our client’s properties. You want the best tenants.
We want the best tenants for you. To do this, we follow certain procedures to ensure we find the best possible tenants for your property. Use our experience to create an application process that ensures the right tenant is living in your rental property.
#1 Create a List
Start out by making a list. You’ll also want to make a list of “the basics.” This is a list of what you do and don’t want in renters. Write down everything from whether or not they have pets, their desired rent amount, and what type of lease agreement they would like. Finally, cross off any items that are not important for you as an owner to know going into the rental agreement process.
By reviewing your list of “wants” and “don’t wants” and discussing this with the potential tenant, you’ll gain a great deal of insight to their personality and what you can expect from them – listen!
Applications serve several different purposes. First, by requiring your potential tenants to fill out an application, you’ll always have their statements in writing. This is important because many people will say they “don’t remember a policy” or a claim they made, etc. When they do, and it will happen, you’ll have it in writing.
Second, when interviewing potential tenants, it’s easy to get distracted or to forget important questions. With an application, they’ll have the questions before them. Nothing will be forgotten.
Third, even if they aren’t chosen as a tenant this time when the property comes available in the future, you’ll have a file of potential tenants ready to call.
There are many places online that offer “stock” rental applications. You can use one of these or customize it for yourself and your property situation.
Application questions should include the basics such as name, phone number, current address, job, income, previous addresses, number of dependents/employees etc. In addition to these questions, be sure and ask:
- Ask what income they will be making that year so you know how much money they’ll have available for rent payments
- Credit score
- Rental history
- Criminal record – Be sure to ask each applicant if anyone in their household has a criminal or eviction record
- Eviction record
Review the application for accuracy and completion. If there are any discrepancies or missing information, request it is provided before moving forward with the screening process.
#3 Interview in Person
Texting and phone calls aren’t quite sufficient when screening tenants. You can learn a lot from body language, appearance, and punctuality. Yes, in-person interviews are more of a pain, but your property is worth it. Never lose sight of the fact that your property is an investment. Invest your time with in-person screening to make sure you choose the right fit for your investment.
If everything checks out to this point, schedule an in-person interview with the candidate(s). Conduct interviews by asking tough questions about past landlords, finances, pets/smoking habits. Find out what kind of tenant they are by asking them questions about their current living situation and their expectations
#4 Check, Check, Check
It is a property owner’s responsibility to conduct a thorough screening of potential renters before renting out the property. This includes checking references from previous owners, credit reports, and criminal records.
Neglecting to do this will put the property owner at a higher risk of property damage, property loss, and possibly litigation. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid all of these.
In addition to checking references from previous owners, property owners should also check credit reports and criminal records as part of the tenant screening process. In particular, property managers should pay close attention to prospective tenants with a history of evictions as property owners should expect some property damage. Reference checks are also important to receive an idea of what type of renter each property owner will be getting into their property.
Reference checking is a best practice in property management that property owners can implement within the rental process to ensure that they are screening occupants that fit into their property standards.
Does This Sound Like a Pain?
It does and unfortunately, screening tenants usually is a pain. It’s also one of the, if not THE most important task as a property owner. If this sounds like something you would prefer not to do, leave it to us. We’re property management experts in Costa Mesa, CA. Call us today at 866-957-6677 and let us handle it!