Whether you’re having trouble selling your home and are looking to rent it out until you find a buyer or are interested in renting out a part of your home as an income property, finding reliable and trustworthy tenants is often one of the most difficult parts. Fortunately, this ultimate to guide to tenant screening & renting your house will walk you through the necessary steps to take when accepting rental applications, along with some tips on how to ultimately select a tenant you can trust.
Create a Rental Application
Start by creating a basic rental application that you have all potential tenants fill out. Keep in mind that fair housing laws in the United States require you to use the same application for all interested parties; you may not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, religion, gender, or disability when screening tenants, after all.
Some basic information you may wish to collect on the application include:
- full name
- basic contact information
- employer information
- names of other occupants
- list of references
Run Credit and Background Checks
These days, it’s highly recommended that you run credit and criminal background checks on all prospective tenants for your property. You can pay different services to have these done separately, or you can find a reliable service that can conduct a credit and background check all at once.
Either way, keep in mind that you will need the applicant’s consent to run a credit and/or criminal background check. Therefore, if you plan on doing this, be sure to include a consent option on your formal application. Typically, you’ll need a social security number in order to obtain credit and background reports, so be sure to gather the necessary information.
A credit report is a great way to get an idea of the tenant’s financial risk. The higher the credit score, the more likely it is that you can rely on that tenant for steady income each month. Of course, a criminal background check can also give you peace of mind in knowing you’re renting to a person who hasn’t been convicted of any major crimes.
Contact References and Past Landlords
It’s never a bad idea to ask for a list of references and previous landlords when screening a potential tenant. References, such as managers and supervisors, can speak to an applicant’s character. On the other hand, contacting a past landlord is a great way to find out whether the tenant paid all of his or her outstanding debts upon moving out, whether any damage was done to the property, and other important information that could influence one’s decision to rent to the tenant.
It’s also a good idea to contact the current employer listed on the application to ensure that the applicant does, in fact, work there and have a steady income. Most employers won’t disclose specific salary information, but you should at least be able to confirm that the applicant is employed to the capacity that he or she claims.
Schedule a Face-to-Face Interview
This isn’t required by any means, but scheduling a face-to-face interview can be a great way to get a better feel for a prospective tenant and the lifestyle they live. This can help you determine whether or not they’d be a good fit for renting your home while establishing some ground rules regarding pets, visitors, and the like.
As you can see, there’s a lot to keep in mind when searching for the right tenant to rent your home. For more information on screening tenants and embarking on your journey as a landlord, be sure to contact us today.
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