You never know what a person could be hiding under the surface. People like Ted Bundy were charismatic, beloved members of their communities. Then, people discovered the horrifying truth hidden under deceitful smiles and kind words.
Simply put, trust no one based on appearance. Especially when it comes to allowing a stranger to live on your property. Tenant screening is the best tool you have for vetting prospective tenants who seem nice at first glance.
Before you do, though, know what's acceptable and what's illegal. Read on for a list of vital do's and don'ts to keep in mind during the tenant screening process.
Do: Check Their Employment, Income, and Credit
The right rental tenants need to be able to afford to pay rent. Otherwise, you'll have to go through a very messy process of eviction. The easiest way to verify that they can is by checking whether they have a stable job and enough income.
Stable jobs can be deceitful, as many people are deep in debt. The debt of American households is over $16 trillion, which can leave some people unable to afford rent even with a decent salary. Credit checks can tell you whether they are financially able to keep to the lease agreement.
Don't: Discriminate Because of Tenant Screening Results
A key component of tenant screening is a background check. This will reveal whether a person has a criminal history, among other sensitive personal information.
Your immediate reaction may be to deny them for past crimes, but be careful here. Laws like the Federal Fair Housing Act forbid discrimination based on race, religion, disability, and so on.
While it isn't discriminatory to deny someone based on criminal history, the tenant could accuse you of discriminating for the reasons mentioned above. That's not a good way to build landlord-tenant relations. Think carefully before denying someone who is a minority.
Do: Check Their Rental History
At first glance, a person may seem to be a responsible tenant. They've got a job, good credit, and no criminal history. Before drafting the lease, check their history with previous landlords.
For all you know, they could have been evicted. They could have left rent unpaid, or been a real pain in the butt for other property owners. Have your full-service property management company do a thorough tenant screening to check their rental history.
Don't: Violate Any Privacy Laws
Exercise common sense when dealing with background checks and income information. This is very sensitive data that you should store with care and keep to yourself. Do not share tenant details with anyone else.
Further, do not make the mistake of asking invasive questions. Personal details beyond those mentioned here are the tenant's business, not yours. You could fall afoul of privacy laws by divulging certain information.
Get Property Management Services with PMI
Tenant screening is non-negotiable for every prospective tenant whose application you consider. Make sure to vet their financial and credit history. While you can make a decision based on criminal records, be wary of the risk of accidental discrimination.
PMI ensures everything goes nice and smooth with your rental. Use our free rental analysis tool to determine your property's profitability.