How to Screen Tenants and Protect Yourself

If you are a landlord the last thing you need is the tenant from hell.  They cost you a fortune in unpaid rents, they damage your property and you have to go to court to try and recover losses.  There are things you can do to prevent all of this but you need to know how to screen tenants and protect yourself against future losses.  Here are some red flags and how you can avoid them.

Check Employment References

Most landlords only check to verify that a prospective tenant has a job and makes enough money to pay the rent.  You can also ask supervisors if the potential tenant is reliable, do they show up and finish work on time.  Do they show up late all the time and reek of last night’s party?  A good employee is often a good tenant.

More than Just a Credit Score

Credit scores are just a number and don’t even come close to telling the whole story.  You’re better off looking at the type of debt they have and the payment history.  Some debt is constructive, almost everyone has a car loan or a student loan they are trying to pay off.  We have also all been in financially tight situations, that being said someone with large amounts of credit card debt may not be a great risk.

Honesty is the Best Policy

If you find a potential tenant lying on their application for any reason then move on to the next applicant.  Little white lies have no place on a rental application and they aren’t trustworthy.  Lies on applications are often in regards to income, many will inflate the amount of money they earn.  It is still a red flag and you need to pass.

Have they Ever Been Evicted

If they have been evicted before then pass on the application.  While most landlords will only check credit and employment history you are far better off checking to see if a tenant has been evicted in the last 5 years.  At the same time you want to check with previous landlords to see if they have been a good tenant or not.  Paying the rent on time isn’t the only thing that makes a good tenant you also need someone who will keep your property clean and well maintained.

Renting to a new tenant is always risky so do whatever you can to protect yourself from bad tenants.  Screen carefully each and every tenant that moves into your building you will thank yourself for it down the road.