We’ve all heard some truly terrible experiences that some landlords have had with problem tenants. Tenant screening is an important step of the rental process and it’s the best way to avoid big problems during the lease. We’ll show you five common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not Screening Your Tenants
Knowing details about a tenant’s credit, criminal, and eviction history can help you protect you and your unit, financially and physically.
Credit reports can tell landlords about a renter’s financial situation, which may indicate financial stability or a lack thereof. Eviction reports can alert landlords to a previous situation that they can avoid.
Screening reports do not make the decision for you, but it does provide valuable information that can help.
Mistake #2: Using One Type of Report
Running either a credit report or a criminal background report won’t give you the whole picture when it comes to your tenant’s background. A clean credit report doesn’t guarantee a clean background report and vice versa.
Remember to use the same screening process for all of your tenants. Whether or not it’s intentional, using different standards for each applicant can be considered a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Read more about this in Mistake #4.
Mistake #3: Only Screening One Applicant
When you have co-applicants interested in your property, like a couple or roommates, it can be tempting to only screen one of them. However, it is recommended that a landlord or property manager screens all applicants over the age of 18.
Why? If a potential tenant has something negative in their credit, criminal, or eviction history, then they may have a co-applicant with a clean report fill out the application and go through the screening process.
Mistake #4: Violating the Fair Housing Act
We’ve told you some things you can do, so what can’t you do when it comes to screening? Make sure that your tenant screening process is uniform. In other words, be sure that you use the same methods and criteria for all of your applicants. If your reasons for selecting different tenants are fair, nondiscriminatory, well-documented, and you applied your screening requirements uniformly, you should be protected.
Take a look at the Fair Housing Act to find out how to avoid discriminatory practices during the application and selection process. While those with a criminal history are not officially recognized as a protected class, refusing to rent to an individual on that factor can also be considered discriminatory in certain situations. Find out more about how to apply Fair Housing to applicants with a criminal record in this article.
Mistake #5: Not Taking Advantage of Free Screening Options
Some landlords avoid screening their tenants is because it’s costly and can take time. You can use social media to get some insight on potential tenants. There are also free tenant screening report options, there’s no excuse to not run a report on your applicants.
With TurboTenant, you can run credit, criminal background, and eviction reports with one click as soon as your tenant applies to your property. It’s a soft inquiry, so it won’t impact their credit. Also, you won’t be responsible for handling their private information, which can often require an on-site inspection in order to perform credit and background checks.
Protect your investment by coming up with a solid screening process. The extra step could save you money in the long run. Happy landlording!