Tenant screening is a part of property management that you really need to get right if you want your real estate investing to be worthwhile.
While it may be one of the less “fun” aspects of real estate investing, finding good tenants you can trust and maintain a positive relationship with will make a dramatic difference and help you sleep much better at night.
How to Screen Your Applicants
It’s not enough to simply put up an ad for an available lease and see who applies. At Joseph Thomas Property Management, we make sure our clients have a strategy in place to find good applicants, verify important details about them, and establish clear expectations for leasing.
Create a Good Application
The first screening tool used to weed out potential tenants that don’t fit what you are looking for is the rental application. Property owners have flexibility in how they choose to structure their application and the questions that are included. Of course, there are anti-discrimination laws and occasional local regulations that must be followed.
Our team at Joseph Thomas has years of experience fine-tuning rental applications and helping owners effectively screen out the wrong kinds of tenants right from the beginning.
Background Check / Criminal History
Sometimes, the application doesn’t capture all the details you would want. We recommend conducting background checks on applicants to determine whether a criminal history might disqualify an applicant from being a desirable tenant.
The existence of any criminal history doesn’t necessarily need to exclude an applicant automatically, but knowing these details will help you make an informed and careful decision. What will you do if your tenant goes to jail?
Screen Based on Income
A good tenant is a tenant that you can rely on to pay rent. It’s a good idea to also screen tenants based on their income.
Of course, just because an applicant has lots of money in their bank account doesn’t mean they will definitely keep up with the rent. But an applicant that can verify steady income is a safer bet than an applicant who cannot.
Screen Based on Credit History
Credit history is another layer of tenant screening that many of our Utah property owner clients find valuable. Credit history is an imperfect measurement that doesn’t tell the complete story, but it is another screening tool in your belt that will help you make a smart decision on whether or not to offer a lease.
Screen for Past Evictions
Has the applicant ever been evicted before? If they have, you’ll want to gather some details as to why. A past eviction doesn’t mean it will definitely happen again, but you’d feel pretty foolish (and frustrated) if you signed a tenant with a history of evictions and then experienced the same problems with them yourself.
Landlord and Employment References
It’s always helpful to gather any references available from previous landlords or employers. These people will generally provide honest insight into applicants as a person to help you better understand how your potential landlord-tenant relationship might go.
Ask Good Questions on Rental Application
Your rental applicants can really only provide valuable information on their application to the degree that you ask for it. So, ask good questions! Screen your tenants with questions that get to the point of what you want to know.
Utah Tenant Screening Laws
Of course, rental applications and tenant screening practices need to follow laws and regulations designed to prevent unfair discrimination and privacy violations.
Check out or guide to Utah Landlord-Tenant Law and the state of Utah’s Fair Housing information.
Easy Tenant Screening with Joseph Thomas
Our team of property management pros at Joseph Thomas have helped clients find great tenants in Utah for years. We know our process works, because it’s the same process we use when screening tenants for our own rental properties.
Let Joseph Thomas help you get it right from the start and find tenants you’ll be grateful to have.