Tenant Screening Advice

by | Mar 23, 2017 | Property Management

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Establishing and following a thorough and rigorous tenant screening process is an important part of owning and managing rental property. A lot of landlords skip this step or don’t do a great job of screening. That’s a mistake. A good tenant will stay in your property for a long time and help you earn money from your investment, while a bad tenant will only cost you money and provide you with a lot of frustration. If you don’t have the resources to properly screen your tenants, work with a management company who can place an outstanding tenant in your property.

Collecting Applications
Your application form should do two things; collect the information you’ll need to screen and grant you permission to do things like credit checks, employment verifications, and landlord references. Make sure all potential tenants completely fill out and sign your application. Anyone 18 years of older who will reside in the property should fill out a separate application. Your application should ask for identifying information, addresses, employment contact information, income amounts, and the names of former landlords. Always collect an application fee, which will cover your screening costs and ensure the tenants are serious about the home.

Conducting Background Checks
Your background check should include criminal history, as well as looking at eviction records to ensure your prospective tenant has not been evicted previously. Check for judgments as well. Run a credit report to see if any money is owed to former landlords, utility companies, or property managers. Talk to the tenant’s employer and verify income by collecting pay stubs or bank statements. Talk to the tenant’s current landlord and at least one former landlord. Ask whether the tenant paid in a timely manner, damaged the property, or had pets. Compare all of the information you gather to what was listed on the application and see if there are any discrepancies.

Follow Fair Housing Requirements
You need to screen thoroughly, but you have to be aware of the fair housing laws that exist in California and through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Make sure you aren’t discriminating against any of the protected classes. A lot of landlords don’t discriminate intentionally, but there is the appearance of discrimination. The best way to avoid this is with a consistent screening process in which every application is treated the same.

If you have any questions about tenant screening or how to find the best tenant, please contact us at Los Angeles Property Management Group