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.