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Tenant Screening Tips That Can Save You Money

tenant screening

Renting out a property has always been a good option when you’re looking to create a steady stream of passive income. In just this year, 10.6 American tax filers have declared income from property rentals with average earnings of $97,000 annually. It’s lucrative and generates consistent revenue, but no one talks about how difficult it can be on the back-end.

From preparing your home to renting it out to tenants to learning the legalities of doing so, to actually managing the property and setting some house rules with the tenants too— It takes a great deal of work to handle the day-to-day operations of a property management business, let alone running an effective one.

For example, if a tenant causes damage to your rental unit, it can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair the damages. This can leave you with no rent coming in from your rental unit until repairs are completed. Tenant screening helps you avoid such situations by weeding out bad tenants before they move into your rental units.

With a proper tenant screening in place it can help you to ensure that your property is leased to a responsible tenant who can pay their rent on time, maintain the property and not cause damage or problems for other tenants.

WHY YOU NEED TO SCREEN TENANTS?

Getting tenants interested in renting out your property can be exciting, especially for first-timers but this is genuinely an essential yet easily overlooked step to averting future inconveniences as a landlord. Without proper screening, you run the risk of letting a nightmare tenant live on your property.

The cost of tenant screening is often the first thing most property managers mention when discussing the importance of screening tenants. Other reasons are:

  1. Late rental payments or no payments are one of the biggest hassles that many landlords encounter. Before any tenant may rent out your property, one of your prerequisites should be if they are capable of paying on time. If not, you may find yourself spending a lot of time chasing late payers which is just going to be a real headache for you.

  2. Another reason you should never skip this step is to catch anyone with a criminal record. You want a tenant that you can trust to uphold and protect your reputation, not someone that could potentially cause legal troubles.

  3. Screening tenants helps protect your property against damage. Tenant screening also helps ensure that your property remains in good condition throughout the duration of the lease agreement. This can help increase your property’s value at resale time, while also helping reduce maintenance costs over time.

The goal of this process is to reduce risk, protect your property and ensure that you only rent to qualified individuals.

WARNING SIGNS OF A BAD TENANT

How can you spot and filter out the bad tenants from the good ones, so that you don’t end up spending money unnecessarily? Here are the top four red flags to look out for:

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A Bad Credit Score

This should be the biggest red flag of all, blaring in red neon lights. A bad credit score reflects the tenant’s ability to pay on time without you having to consistently run after them. A prospective tenant non-compliant to revealing their credit record is a warning sign. It oftentimes means they have a bad credit score that comes with an eviction track record.

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Spotty job history

This ties in with checking a prospective tenant’s credit report. As a landlord, you have to guarantee that your tenant has a stable source of income that enables them to pay their rental dues consistently and provide sufficient funds for their cost of living. They should at least be able to hold a stable job for a few months to prove that they have a stable flow of income.

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Criminal history

A potential client must consent to a criminal record background check in order to determine whether they can be a threat to yourself, your other tenants, neighbors, and your community. It’s crucial to check with your state on what the laws are in regards to tenant discrimination.

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No References

They’re not willing to provide references or previous landlords’ contact information. If a potential tenant refuses to give you contact information for their landlord or previous landlord, beware — there could be a reason why they don’t want you talking to them. A good tenant should be eager to provide references from previous landlords who can provide insight into how reliable and responsible they are as tenants.

It’s the landlord’s responsibility to make sure the tenants are properly vetted and can do basic things like pay rent on time and don’t violate any of the terms of their lease. However, with a virtual property manager assistant, you’ll have someone on hand that can help you with all of these issues and save you money.

WHAT IS A VIRTUAL PROPERTY MANAGER?

A virtual property manager is a member of your team that works remotely with tasks such as managing schedules and property management software, processing and screening tenant applications as well as hosting online tours of rental properties, bills, and payment processing, and managing maintenance requests. 

This is a short list of tasks from your property management workflow that you can offload to virtual property managers in order to help decompress you and your rental business. Virtual property managers can help with a host of tasks that can make your life as a property owner and manager easier. For a more complete guide on what they can do for you, read through 11 Tasks To Delegate To Your VA Property Manager.

Many property owners and managers have found that it’s easier to outsource the management of their properties and focus on their core business. And handing your tenant screening process over to virtual assistant property managers is one of them.

The main reason why some landlords choose to outsource their property management is to have more control over who lives in their rental units. Tenants who have been screened through virtual property managers will have an easier time passing background checks than those who haven’t been screened at all. This makes it more likely that tenants will stay longer in your property, which means fewer evictions and less turnover, which leads to happier tenants and less work for you.

10 EFFECTIVE WAYS A VIRTUAL PROPERTY MANAGER CAN HELP WITH TENANT SCREENING

Tenant screening is not just about making sure that they have a good credit score or something like that. It’s about understanding who they are, what their needs are and how much work they’re going to put into maintaining their home.

If you want good tenants, it takes time to screen them — and time is something that many landlords and property managers just don’t have. Especially if you own or manage more than two properties. A virtual assistant property manager can help you screen tenants for your rental property so that you can concentrate on other aspects of running your business or managing your other properties. Here are 10 tips on how a virtual assistant property manager can help screen tenants for you:

Write down what an ideal tenant looks like to you

As a property owner, you’ll naturally have your own preference on who rents your property so you must take the time to clarify what your ideal tenant looks like while keeping in mind not to be discriminatory. For example, a good tenant should have a stable job, earn 3x more than the rent, have no criminal background, and have no eviction history, have no pets and how many people will be staying at the property.

Include your ideal tenant in your rental property listing

It’s good practice to do this because it already begins the pre-screening process of tenant applicants. By describing the qualities of your preferred tenant, you can deter those that do not fit the bill. A good property manager knows that effective tenant screening starts even before the application process.

Pre-screening your tenants by asking crucial questions in the initial interview

Catching red flags early is important and will save you tons of time down the road. A virtual property manager can take the task of initiating an online interview to engage in an initial conversation to highlight your requirements before they may begin to rent. Often if they fall off the map once hearing your requirements, this is a sign that a tenant should not qualify to lease your property at all.

Create a written qualification requirement and rental application form

When screening prospective tenants, it’s a good idea to know their basic biodata. Creating a document with your requirements provides you legal evidence in any possible cases of tenant discrimination filed against you and it also makes it more efficient for virtual property managers to screen your prospects.

Don’t offer leases without a completed and signed tenant application

Again, this protects you from any legal cases that may be filed against you. If a prospective client does not sign their tenant application or fails to properly complete it can signify a tenant that is trying to conceal information which is a red flag to you as a landlord. Virtual property managers know that a good tenant would want to fill everything out as much as possible so they get a higher chance of being qualified renters and in isolated situations where prospects cannot provide all documents with a valid reason, virtual property managers can follow up and investigate so you don’t have to.

Check their social media accounts

Social media is a powerful tool for accessing information about an individual and who they are. Take time to scroll through their profiles to see if their interview information and references match as well as to see a quick peek at who they are and who they acquaint themselves with as this it’s a possibility that they may be invited onto their rented property as well. This is an admin task easily appointed to virtual property managers as they have a keen eye for details that you may miss out on.

Run a credit background check

A common mistake that most first-time property owners and managers make is taking a tenant’s application form at face value but in this day and age, you have to exercise good judgment and verify information with reliable and unbiased sources. It is a crucial step for virtual property managers to conduct a credit background check because it assures property owners of credit worthiness, history of employment as well as rental history hence putting you in a position to make an educated and well-informed decision.

Investigate for criminal history

It is your right as a property owner or manager to do a criminal background check on your prospective tenants and it is also within your discretion what you allow and don’t allow based in regards to the severity or gravity of a tenant’s criminal records if they do have one. Safety and security are your main concern here and virtual property managers are trained to investigate previous or current convictions of a potential renter.

Verify income and employment status

This is important to solidify that your prospective tenant is being honest about their income and that his/her references tell a consistent story. Verifying this information with their employer or employing company is a certain strategy to ensure their uprightness. Virtual managers can easily do so by reaching out to them for a quick call or through their company or personal emails.

Interview prior landlords

We strongly recommend contacting their previous landlords to get an honest and unbiased opinion on their behavior and track record as a tenant. A good virtual property manager will know communication techniques to smoke out friends, family members, or acquaintances posing as fake landlords to lie on behalf of the prospective tenant.

BONUS

Don’t skip verifying their references

Many people may overlook this but this step completes the process. Virtual property managers know that the numbers on the page may not be the entire story. A person can have a low credit score but gleaming references from previous landlords that they are good renters and as well as hearing from friends, neighbors or acquaintances on their true character.

Cross reference all information gathered with their application form

All of the essential steps in this article boil down to this, the tenant must be consistent in all documents they provide and interviews they participate in regards to the tenant screening. With the amount of information you have to sieve through and the amount of calls to numerous people you have to make, it will take you a fair amount of time but with a virtual property manager, it will be a breeze as they already know the ins and outs of an efficient tenant screening process.

Despite having done all the above, you may still face these types of situations. So how do you choose a tenant screener? While some are better than others, none are perfect.

NOT ALL TENANT SCREENERS ARE CREATED EQUAL

You need to know that all tenant screeners aren’t created equal. Some use only basic information like credit scores and criminal records, while others are able to dig deeper into their applicant’s background, finding out things like how long they’ve been in their current residence and whether or not they pay their bills on time.

So how do you know who’s right for your rental? Here are some things to look for when choosing a tenant screening service:

-Flexibility: Make sure when you go for a company that they provide flexible services so that they can meet your needs at all times of day or night.

-Transparency: You should know exactly what information will be gathered and what it will cost before signing up for any kind of service.

-Reliability: You want to know that any information you receive from them is accurate and up-to-date.

But if you want to do this more efficiently, save the time and money that goes into finding a tenant screener and then training that person on your system, then that’s where a virtual property manager comes in. With experience in screening tenants for property management businesses, and helping them manage their operations more effectively through innovative solutions, you’ll be setting yourself up in the right direction. Virtual property managers tenant screen by providing:

  • A fast, easy way for landlords to get access to tenant screening services without having to hire someone new on staff or investing in new equipment
  • An online platform that makes it easy for landlords to see all their properties and tenants while they’re looking at their account dashboard

It’s important to remember that no matter what kind of tenant screening service you choose, the most important thing is to make sure that it gives you access to information that will help protect both yourself and your property. The right tenant screening service will provide you with the information you need to make well-informed decisions about who gets to live in your rental properties.