How Do I Know I Can Trust My Tenant?
Screening tenants and finding the right tenant that aligns with your expectations can be tricky business.
You’ve invested in your rental property with your hard-earned money. Ultimately, you want a tenant that would take care of the place as if it was their own and pay their rent on time.
Of course, you’ll need a thorough tenant screening process and follow State Laws. But, you still don’t want to come across as being too nosy, intrusive, or suspicious. So here are some tips to discreetly screen your tenants to ensure that they meet your standards.
Create a Thorough Rental Application Form for the tenant
You can start by creating a rental application form that’s part of your standard process. There are best practices and relevant information that you should include, such as:
- Contact information
- Income & employment verification
- Residence history
By creating a thorough rental application form, you can quickly identify any potential red flags without making it seem like you’re being too suspicious. Moreover, you can ask them the following questions:
- Do you have any pets? (You don’t want to deal with unauthorized pets!)
- When is your target date to move in?
- What is your estimated monthly income?
- How long have you lived at your current address?
- Have you ever broken a rental agreement in the past?
- Why are you moving?
Collecting this data in advance helps you filter out not-so-good tenants. Also, ensure that you keep the application process confidential, preserving the dignity of applicants while collecting relevant information.
Do a Quick Search of Their Name to See if Anything Pops Up
These days, social media is a powerful tool to quickly learn more information about someone. Before jumping into a collaborative process with someone, it can be helpful to do a quick search of their name to see if anything pops up.
Most social platforms provide easy access to what kind of social media accounts or personal sites a person may have. It’s the best way to get an idea of who the person really is. Plus, it can give you an idea of how you might work with them in the future (e.g., from how you should approach conversations to knowing their preferred ways of working).
Just don’t be a stalker—nobody wants that!
Get in Touch with Their Past Landlords
A past landlord can give insight into the kind of tenant they were—were they easy to work with, or did they give them trouble? Were they good tenants, always paying rent on time and taking care of the place? You’ll have a much better chance of picking out tenants who will follow through on their responsibilities.
Yes, we know that it’s not always easy to get in touch with past landlords. They usually won’t pick up your call. But give it a shot, and you might find a few that are willing to give you the time of day.
Don’t hesitate to ask for their past landlord’s name!
Research About their Eviction History
An eviction history can be both a blessing and a curse for tenants looking to move from one rental home to another. A clean record will get a tenant a nice place in no time, but a tenant plagued with past issues can be a red flag that landlords should not ignore. Instances of eviction may signify past difficulties or hardships these tenants have overcome, or otherwise.
This should not automatically disqualify prospective tenants; landlords should assess the context and any other relevant information before making an informed decision about whether or not to approve them. You can begin your research with these steps:
- Look them up in state court records. Find your state’s website from NCSC.
- Search for the applicant’s name. You can use additional information to be more specific in name searches (i.e. their nickname, birth name, etc.). Also, search previous states they have resided in.
- State courts can furnish you with a brief or copy of the records.
- You can now read up on the case. In some instances, evictions were wrongful or through no fault of the tenant, which is good news for you.
When in doubt, you can take advantage of screening companies to obtain more information. It’ll come with added cost, but there’ll be situations where it’ll be worth it (like if you’re really having a hard time finding quality tenants and finally came across one that has potential, but they have an eviction record).
Ask the tenant for a Valid ID for Proof of Identity
As a landlord, verifying your new tenant’s identity and ensuring that they are who they say they are is a crucial part of the process. What if your tenant has a delinquent payment history? What if he is assuming someone else’s identity to secure the rental? If these questions go unnoticed, this person can potentially risk your investment and your credibility as a landlord.
That is why taking the time for due diligence such as getting proof of identity and ensuring the identification documents are valid and up-to-date is crucial. Get your prospective tenant to provide you with a valid ID so you can be sure of their identity and move on with the renting process.
It’s a discreet way to ensure that they’re honestly communicating with you.
Meet the tenant in Person to Know Their Personality
Meeting someone face-to-face offers insight into how they will be as a tenant. You get to observe and interact with them, accounting for things like body language, friendliness, and communication style. If you’re unsure of how you can meet them in person, one way is to ask them to sign or submit documents in person. They won’t know that you’re actually evaluating them, which makes it even more effective.
Taking the time to meet a potential client in person can give you the confidence that you’re making the best decision—don’t overlook this step when hunting for potential landlords!
Ultimately? Use Your Best Judgment
At the end of the day, you’ll have to use your best judgment when choosing a tenant. And if you’re still unsure, then look to property managers (like us!) or other companies that provide screening services to know everything about a potential tenant before making a solid decision.
By following the tips above, you can increase your chances of finding a great tenant for your home. After all, tenants are the lifeline of your investment—only the good ones will support and protect your assets.
Are you nervous about accepting tenants? Our expert team of property managers has the expertise and experience to spot the best ones. Contact us today to find out more.