21 Sep 14 Tenant Screening Tips
Here are 14 Tips for Tenant Screening that you need to take to heart.
Have each applicant over 18 years of age fill out a separate application. Cross check the information given by each. Look for discrepancies.
Always charge an application fee. Besides weeding out some bad applicants you should recoup the cost of the credit report and your in house processing expenses. The exception to this is if you run tenant screening through “Rent Perfect”.
Whenever possible you should get three to five years of employment history. Look for discrepancies. If something doesn’t add up ask yourself “how will they pay the rent”?
Check back three landlords. The current landlord may want them out and you could be the solution. The prior landlord might tell you the truth. The third landlord can be used to see if the situation changed.
Review Application with Applicant
Make sure all lines on your application are filled in and legible. Check the name, address and social security number since this info is used to obtain an accurate credit report if you don’t use Rent Perfect.
Ask for Photo ID
Always ask to see their photo ID. Check the name and address of each applicant’s ID card against the information they listed on their application. Do not make a copy of their photo ID unless you have chosen to rent to the applicant AND it is legal to do so in your state.
Authorization to Release Information
Get a signed “Authorization to Release Information”. Most employers and many landlords will not verify the applicant’s employment or rental data without written permission from the applicant.
Original Paycheck Stubs
Askl for the applicant to provide you with three recent and consecutive ORIGINAL paycheck stubs. Do not accept photocopies because they can be modified. Return the originals when your screening is complete. Do not make copies unless you are renting to the applicant.
Using the “Authorization to Release Information” contact the applicants employer and verify their employment. Make sure to ask the average number of hours worked. Do not assume the applicant works full time. Do not assume the paycheck stubs you receive are regular. They may include overtime or other incentives that are irregular to the applicants employment.
Compare the addresses reported on the credit report to those on the rental application. You may find additional addresses on the credit report that were not disclosed on the rental application. Ask the applicant about any addresses disclosed on the credit report that they failed to include on the application. Check rental performance at those addresses.
Check public records for prior evictions and records of criminal history. Not all evictions appear on credit reports in a timely manner.
If the income, credit and other information provided by the applicant meets your written criteria, tell them that they are “Pre-Approved Pending Verification”. This can keep a good applicant from shopping the competition while waiting to move into your unit.
Rental Reservation Deposit
Collect a large Rental Reservation or Holding Deposit from all Pre-Approved applicants. Give the applicant a receipt for the deposit. Explain that the deposit will be returned if management rejects their application. Also tell them that if management accepts them and they decide to live elsewhere they will lose their deposit.
Members of Illinois REIA can get a lifetime membership with “Rent Perfect for as little as Ninety-Five Cents ($0.95). As a savvy landlord this is a great investment and can take have of the above burden off of your shoulders. They applicant pays the application fee direct to the screening company and takes you out of the pre rental transaction. The report you will receive is nationwide and very detailed. PLUS if the applicant does not qualify to rent the unit they will send out a denial letter that is in compliance with fair housing law. For less than $1.00 you can avoid making a costly mistake.