Tenant Screening From A-Z

A TurboTenant Webinar
February 24, 2023

The webinar, hosted by Krista Reuther and Samantha Yadav from TurboTenant’s education and community team, focused on comprehensive tenant screening practices, vital for successful landlord-tenant relationships. The session provided attendees a roadmap from marketing a listing to appropriately rejecting applicants, underpinned by rigorous adherence to Fair Housing Act regulations. Here’s an elaborate summary of what was discussed:

Introduction to Tenant Screening

  • The purpose of tenant screening is to compile a criminal background check, credit check, eviction history report, and other assessments, such as interviews, to gauge a potential tenant’s suitability. It’s the critical first step in establishing successful landlord-tenant relationships, aiming to reduce turnover and avoid the complexities of eviction.

The Fair Housing Act

  • The session emphasized the importance of compliance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. By posing a range of scenarios for participants, the hosts illustrated situations that might inadvertently contravene FHA stipulations, stressing that all landlords, regardless of property size, must adhere to FHA guidelines unless explicitly exempted.

Marketing for Success

  • Good marketing practices were underscored as foundational to screening success. Listings must avoid discriminating language, focusing instead on property features, rental criteria, and leveraging tools like pre-screening questionnaires to filter prospective tenants efficiently.

Setting Tenant Criteria

  • Establishing clear, non-discriminatory tenant criteria—based on credit scores, rent-to-income ratio, history of collections, and evictions—provides a structured screening process that aligns with fair housing principles. Applicants’ ability to meet these criteria helps landlords find well-suited tenants for their units.

Verifying Applicant Information

  • The webinar explored the importance of verifying employment, income, and prior landlord references to confirm applicants’ stability and reliability. Special attention was given to recognizing and responding to potentially fraudulent documentation, such as altered pay stubs or W-2 forms.

Addressing Special Considerations

  • Scenarios involving emotional support animals (ESAs) and situations stemming from applicants’ domestic changes, such as divorce, were discussed to demonstrate the nuanced nature of tenant screening and the need for sensitivity to applicants’ circumstances while ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Rejecting Applicants

  • Proper procedures for denying applicants, including issuing adverse action letters in cases where the decision is based on credit reports or other screening results, were outlined. This ensures transparency and fairness, giving rejected applicants the opportunity to review and dispute the information that led to their rejection.

Utilizing Professional Services

  • The webinar featured insights from Colton, the CEO of Ownwell, and Sam, a property tax manager, highlighting how Ownwell assists property owners in navigating property tax assessments and appeals. This segment stressed the potential financial benefits of professional services in managing aspects of property ownership beyond tenant screening.

Practical Advice from Experienced Landlords

  • Contributions from experienced landlords emphasized the value of thorough tenant screening, proactive communication, and maintaining strict but fair criteria. Real-life advice underpinned the webinar’s thematic guidance, reinforcing best practices in tenant selection and management.


The webinar offered an exhaustive guide to tenant screening, emphasizing legal compliance, effective communication, and the utilization of both self-managed and professional resources to optimize the landlord-tenant dynamic. Attendees gained actionable insights into enhancing their property management practices, ensuring a more secure and profitable rental business.

Source & Guest Links


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