It is every landlord’s dream to select tenants who are responsible, respectful, understanding, and pay their rent on time.
To have the highest chance of selecting these renters, a thorough screening should be done. This is one of the most important things that you can do to preserve and protect your investment.
Furthermore, filtering out the problematic prospective tenants will help you avoid having unnecessary stress and problems.
Finding good occupants is never easy. In the following article, you will learn about ways to effectively screen your Grand Prairie prospective tenants to increase your chances of landing great ones.
What is tenant screening?
An application form can only tell you so much. It can also be easily falsified. That’s why it’s important that proper tenant screening is conducted.
Tenant screening goes more in-depth into the tenants’ background and verifies the information that they have given you. This means going through their credit and employment history, as well as any criminal background to choose the best applicant for your property.
Below is a comprehensive five-step guide on how to find the best tenants for your rental units:
Step 1: Planning and Marketing
Planning is the first step. You need to consider the kind of tenant that you want and incorporate these qualities into your rental listing and advertisements.
You will have to be specific to attract the right kind of applicants. Do note that these qualifications must meet the Fair Housing Laws.
There are a few factors that you can look out for to eliminate applicants. Pay attention to the following:
- Criminal record
- Rental and payment history
- Employment and job stability
After you have identified what you want in a tenant, you will need to plan for your marketing. Whatever type of platform you are using, this will help you pre-screen your applicants.
Your ad should be clear and directly to the point. You may want to consider putting in the general location, the price, your pet policies, and other policies as well as any other details.
This will help you in screening-out those are who not qualified to rent your property.
Step 2: The Interview and Viewing
The next step would be to interview the prospective tenants.
The first form of communication would be a phone call. Most would call to ask if it is still available and for more details. Take advantage of this opportunity by asking them a list of prepared questions. Remember to provide objective information about the unit, your general rental guidelines, and encourage them to visit the property.
These are some questions you may want to ask:
- Are you currently renting, and if so, where?
- Why do you want to move?
- Will you be living alone or with other people? (If with other people, how many?)
- Do you have a pet?
- Have you been evicted before?
- Would you agree to a credit and full background check?
- Do you have references from your employer or former landlord?
- Do you have any questions? What questions do you have for me?
An over-the-phone interview is vital but a decision shouldn’t be made from it. The next steps would be to invite the prospective client to a face-to-face interview, following a rental viewing.
Take advantage of this by asking a new set of questions like:
- What do you do for a living?
- How long was your last tenancy?
- When would you like to move in?
- Do you – or someone you live with (if any) – smoke?
- Is there anything I should know about before running a deep background check on you?
- Have you ever been bankrupt?
- What can you say about the rental unit?
- Are you comfortable paying a $[amount] security deposit and the application fee?
- Do you have any questions?
If you feel that you are satisfied with their responses and are sure that they were honest, polite and cooperative, the next step would be to have them fill out a rental application.
Step 3: Provide a tenancy application form.
When taking on a new tenant, you should always use a comprehensive tenancy application form. Each adult in the property should have a completed application form for your records.
The best way to collect the most important information about your prospects is through a rental application form. This form is a very important starting point for any property leasing. The application has information about a prospective tenant and provides sufficient information to do detailed screening checks, including a brief interview, credit checks, and references.
In the form, you can ask for details such as:
- Employment information
- Residential history
- General details such as criminal records, past financial issues like bankruptcy, conflicts with former landlords and the reason behind them, and pet information.
- Lifestyle description, for example, do they smoke?
Step 4: Background Check and Tenants’ References
To confirm the information the prospective tenant has declared, a background check is essential.
This process is important and has many benefits as it helps you verify, validate, and even uncover what the applicant may have failed to mention in interviews and in the application form.
You should contact the tenant’s employer to learn more about their character and employment history. Ask questions to determine whether or not the renter is responsible, hardworking, clean, honest, and trustworthy. This also validates whether the information the renter provided about their employment was true.
Next, you should also contact former landlords to determine whether or not they speak highly of the tenant. This also makes it easy for you to understand what kind of tenant-landlord relationship to expect from the applicant.
Now that you have run all your prospects through this screening process from Step 1, you’ll have cut down to an even shorter list of good quality renters. All that remains is to choose the best one from the final list.
Step 5: Final Decision and Lease Signing
This is the final step where you get to decide on who you will accept as your renter. Rightfully so, the one you should choose should be the one with the most merits. However, as you accept or reject tenants, you need to do so with the Fair Housing Laws in mind.
This means that you shouldn’t discriminate tenants by rejecting their applications due to their nationality, handicap, familial status, sexual orientation, gender, religion, age, political ideology, or race. Doing so may land you in a serious lawsuit.
In summary, having a thorough tenant screening isn’t all that complicated. All you need is time, patience, and knowledge on how to effectively run the process for your Grand Prairie, Alberta properties.