Avoid Bad Tenants with a Good Screening Process

Your tenants are some of your most important assets. Without good tenants, your rental properties sit empty. When your Concord area properties are vacant, you lose money. 

However, there is a difference between a good tenant and a bad tenant. A good tenant pays the rent on time, takes good care of your property, and renews their lease because they enjoy living in your property. 

A bad tenant misses rent payments, let's your property fall into disrepair, and hops from rental to rental—sometimes without notice. 

As a general rule, it's better for your property to sit empty than to put a bad tenant in your home. However, with the right screening process, there's no need to suffer through vacancies. 

Let's look at how to properly screen tenants to consistently find the best tenants for your rental properties. 

Follow the Law

Your screening process should include several background checks. When running these checks, choose the right screening partner to make sure your screenings stay within the law. 

Online, quick-turn credit reports and background checks might be more affordable—but they aren't always accurate. You also can't be sure how your applicant's private information is kept secure. 

Use an FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) compliant screening partner. Be sure you comply with FCRA policies, too. 

The FCRA details what information is considered private information and how to protect it. Failure to comply with the FCRA guidelines can result in legal issues for you. 

Also, before you run any reports, make sure you have documented permission from the applicant. Running background screenings without permission is illegal. 

Never Skip the Background Information

Some tenants might look great on their application. You might think they're perfect when you meet them and show the property. 

Paperwork with an "approved" rubber stamp over it

Don't stop with first impressions when it comes to screening tenants. Be sure you dig behind the scenes to get the full story on any potential tenant

You'll need some information from the applicant to run thorough background checks. Use the application to ask for: 

  • Full Legal Name
  • Any Addresses for at least the prior two years
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Current Landlord (with contact information)
  • Current Employer (with contact information)

With that information, you can run several essential background screenings. 

Run a Credit Check

Running a credit check helps you know if the applicant can afford to live in your property. A credit check also helps you know a little more about the applicant's history. 

When you get the credit report on a potential renter, you'll be able to confirm the identity of the applicant.  Compare the information on the report from the FCRA compliant agency to the information the renter provided on the application. 

This kind of information should match between the two documents:

  • Applicant's Name 
  • Current and Past Addresses
  • Date of Birth 
  • Social Security Number
  • Spouse's Name (if applicable)
  • Known Employers

If any of this information conflicts with what's on the application, be sure you talk with the potential tenant and work through the discrepancies. 

Be Careful with Criminal History

Brown leather-looking material ripped to reveal the words "criminal background check"

With the latest insight into FHA laws, proceed with caution when reviewing a renter's criminal history report. 

Fair housing laws don't allow landlords to apply blanket discrimination based on criminal history. It is illegal and considered discrimination. 

Protect yourself when weighing criminal history against your decision to rent to a potential tenant. Ask some questions to help you understand more about an applicant's history and how it applies to your rental property:

  • Was there a conviction? An applicant could have an arrest on their record without a conviction. Being convicted of a crime is different than only having an arrest.
  • Will the conviction hurt your tenant's ability to pay the rent? If a tenant can't get a job because of their record, they won't be able to fulfill the financial requirements to live in your property.
  • How recent was the offense? What was the seriousness of the offense? An arrest for failing to pay a speeding ticket shouldn't weigh as heavily in your criteria as a recent felony conviction. 
  • Is the applicant a potential danger? With or without a criminal conviction, landlords have to consider your own safety, and the safety of other tenants and your property.

Talk to the applicant about your concerns with their criminal history. Don't jump to conclusions or make a decision that could be considered discriminatory.

Get Help Finding Your Best Tenants

It can be tough to know what kind of background checks to run, and how you can legally use the information in those reports. 

You don't want to risk asking too many questions and violating privacy laws—yet, you need to be thorough enough to make a good decision about the next tenant for your Concord area rental. 

A property management company can help you navigate the tricky world of screening and finding your best tenants. 

All County Property Management is here to help! Get started with a FREE quote. 

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