Tenant Screening Advice from a Tampa Property Management Expert

Good tenants are responsible people who pay rent on time and help you take care of your home. While no landlord wants the expense of a vacancy, bad tenants can often be more costly than a vacant home. You need to be highly selective when it comes to finding tenants for your property, and the best way to do that is with a detailed screening process. Start by establishing the criteria you’ll use to evaluate applicants. When you have your standards in place, you’ll know what you’re looking for and potential tenants will know what you expect.

Application Forms

Your rental application should ask for identifying information as well as details that will help you run the appropriate background checks. Information you want to collect on the application includes the name, birth date, address, driver’s license number and social security number of any interested applicant. You’ll also need names and phone numbers for current and former landlords so you can check the tenant’s references. Make sure the applicant understands you’ll be checking credit and background, and have a place on the application for the tenant to provide consent.

Criminal History

No landlord wants to rent to a tenant who has a history of violent felonies or drug charges. You can conduct a national background check and you can check the sex offender registry. We also recommend that you check the international terrorist database. Don’t be satisfied with a simple check at your local police station; check national records.

Rental History

Talk to former landlords to find out what type of tenant your applicant has been. Ask for references from the last two landlords so you can get a complete picture. You’ll also want to check for a history of evictions. Do a national eviction search to see if your applicant shows up.

Employment and Income

You’ll want to be sure your tenant can afford rent, so look for income that’s at least three times the amount you charge for one month. Ask for pay stubs to verify employment, or call the employer yourself. If you’re renting to a self-employed individual, you can use 1099 forms to establish income or check their bank statements.

Credit History

Conduct a full credit check so you can look for bankruptcy filings, judgments and outstanding debts. A credit score doesn’t tell you everything, so spend some time reviewing the applicant’s credit history instead of just looking at the credit score. Look for an applicant who is responsible with credit and pays bills on time.

Professional property managers have screening procedures in place that can ensure you get the best tenant possible in your home. If you have any questions about how to properly screen tenants, contact Hoffman Realty for more information.