4 tips for screening prospective tenants

Develop a thorough process for screening prospective tenants

The tenant screening process is a critical one - we all know how important good tenants are for all things landlording. Luckily, there are solutions available to landlords that make this process a bit easier and cost-effective.

In this article, we’ll discuss the boxes that should be checked when you’re doing your due diligence on prospective tenants. We’ll also share some resources that will make this process smooth and thorough.

Tenant screening software services

There are several software tools for landlords that are very helpful in screening tenants. Avail has a reliable screening service that is easy for landlords - they check credit reports, criminal history, and national eviction databases. TurboTenant, Cozy/Apartments.com, Rentec Direct, TenantCloud, and several others offer a similar service. 

Confirm employment

Another important step to take is to ensure your tenant(s) are employed. The standard procedure is to look at a recent pay stub. With new tenants, oftentimes they are starting a new job (hence their move) so there may not be a pay stub. Verification from their new employer or an offer letter can work in the case of no pay stub.

Previous landlord reference check

We recommend having a conversation with a landlord your prospective tenants have previously rented from. Occasionally prospective tenants will give you a bogus reference which is why it’s important to speak to this person on the phone (as opposed to reading a reference letter). You should also verify that the owner of a previous address matches the name of the landlord they gave you. Few easy questions to ask: 

  • Did the tenant miss any payments? 
  • How did they treat the property? 
  • Any neighbor complaints? 
  • Were they respectful?

The basics here go a long way.

Have a rental application

Pretty straightforward, but it’s important. The simple act of filling out an application will screen out less serious prospective tenants. We have customers who charge an application fee (also weeding out less serious tenants). Another tip here is to institute an “all questions required” policy for the application: they must answer each question. If the prospective tenants don’t adhere to this (or can’t follow basic instructions) then something is off. Typically, you’ll also receive consent to perform the background check via the application.

There are other routes you can go to screen tenants (there are companies dedicated to this service) so this is by no means an exhaustive list. But if you’re wanting to do this yourself, and maybe this is your first time screening potential tenants, this is a foundation to work off. 

The tenant screening process is a must-do for any landlord or property manager, there simply isn’t a reason not to. While it can be somewhat time-consuming, this is a landlord's opportunity to protect themselves and their property.