Tenant Screening Explained by a Walnut Creek Property Manager

Property owners often ask us how they should screen their potential tenants. It’s an important question, so we thought we’d address it on our blog today. Tenant screening must be taken seriously because you want a responsible, qualified tenant in your home who will pay rent on time and take good care of the property.

The first thing we recommend is that you run a credit report. Looking at an applicant’s credit history will give you a good idea of how these people manage their money. You’ll be able to see any issues that may cause you some concern, such as unpaid utility bills.

In addition to the credit check, we have a detailed and formatted application that we require every applicant to complete. All of the information provided on that application is verified, and we always recommend that you do a thorough check of whatever the renter provides. We always check their landlord references. When we call the current landlord, we ask about what kind of tenants they are and if they gave the proper amount of notice before moving out. In addition to the current landlord, we also call the previous landlord. This is just to make sure that the present landlord isn’t in so much of a hurry to get rid of the tenant that he or she will be willing to say anything at all. We also want to make sure that there is a consistent record of being a good tenant.

We always verify an applicant’s income, and we talk to the employer. We recommend asking for pay stubs or bank statements to ensure the applicant has enough money to spend on rent. You want to be sure a tenant’s income can support rent as well as any living expenses.

Another thing we recommend is that you verify any pets that you allow tenants to have. Interview the pet as well as the tenant to get an idea of how the animal is cared for and how it behaves. Make sure the tenant has pet insurance and ask the current and prior landlords how the pet treated the properties it lived in previously. You want to make sure the pet didn’t cause any damage at former homes. You are allowed to ask for an increased security deposit when you allow a pet.

If the person checks out, you can probably be comfortable that your screening process has worked and you’re getting a great tenant for your rental home. If you have any questions, or you’d like help with tenant screening, please contact us at Stokley Properties.

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Showing 6 comments
  • Tressa Rossi

    Great blog post, I enjoy how you cover all the necessary details to ensure you have a good experience in the tenant screening process. It is important to do your due diligence on your part as the tenant screening sets the stage with your relationship with the tenant. Feel free to check out my blog http://www.foxmanagementinc.com/property-management-blog . Good luck in Walnut Creek!

  • Elin

    Tenant screening is important. We agree it allows us to make sure that the tenant can pay and take care of the home. Good job on your efforts in Walnut Creek. http://www.propertymanagerblog.com/2014/04/16/tenant-screening-walnut-creek-property-manager/

  • Jeremy Tallman

    Verifying all the information is very important, and I am glad that is mentioned. I have long maintained that tenant screening is the most necessary function a property manager can perform. If you’d like to check out my tenant screening techniques feel free to check out my blog at http://www.threaltyinc.com/blog/

  • Steve Rozenberg

    Good post, one thing that I’d like to add is that it is very important to follow Fair Housing Laws. You cannot make special exceptions for one person and if you find yourself violating certain regulations you can get in deep water. I mention this and other ways I keep in mind of on my blog on the same topic. Check it out http://www.empireindustriesllc.com/blog

  • David Holt

    One of the biggest values a property manager brings to the table is to screen and find high quality tenants. It sets the stage for the rest of the tenancy and will determine how the coming months turn out. Doing your due diligence now will ensure less stress in the future. If you’d like to take a look at my blog, see it at http://www.minneapolispropertymanagement.net/property-management-blog and good luck!

  • Jim

    Interviewing the pet and asking if the pet has insurance are good ideas. Thanks for that!