It’s a science now…
Tenant screening used to be an art. Today, it’s a science. Since there truly is no such thing as privacy in our world anymore due to the internet, it is now ridiculously easy to gather intel, er….I mean…background information, on anyone. This makes screening tenants a cinch. In fact, any property investor who decides to manage their own properties can simply and inexpensively utilize the services of independent, online tenant screening companies who will do the leg work for you. Not that this leg work is all that difficult to begin with…but if you like to delegate this kind of simple, but time-consuming work, then by all means use these services.
Harkening back to the days of yore…
In the olden days of yore, when the earth was young – pre-internet, that is, a landlord who managed their own rental units would need to meticulously interview current and former landlords and employers of any prospective tenant. Rather obviously, this would be a time consuming process. But today, you have many options available for screening good tenants, and weeding out the bad ones from the quality ones. I have even written in a much older prior article here (from several years ago – ie., the days of yore) about doing one’s own reference checks. I went on to elaborate on what a time consuming process it could be.
A tip that was an oldie but goodie…
I had advised back then to “make sure you always speak with a prospective tenant’s prior landlord. You need to hear from the horse’s mouth that they never had any problems with late payment of rent or any destruction of property. Or accidents as well. It’s always important to find out if a tenant sued a past landlord! Even if the tenant was in the right, you’ll want to know if you have a litigious sort on your hands. In addition, make sure you check their work references. How long have they been at their current job? Do you feel reasonably secure they will be keeping their job long into their tenancy with you? And, of course, do they earn enough income to support your rent? These are the kinds of simple, basic questions you need to get answered when running reference checks on potential tenants.”
I also had suggested that “another good tip is to actually visit their current home. Look for how they maintain it, since this will be an excellent sign of how they will treat your unit. In addition, try to speak with their employer about their length of time on the job, as well as their prospects for future employment with the same firm.”
The speed of change
My, how fast things have changed…Today, credit reports are easily obtained, with the permission of the tenant. Some landlords allow the tenant to supply their own credit report…while other landlords prefer to do it themselves – but have the potential tenant pay the fee for pulling a report. In addition, many landlords include charging a separate fee for pulling a background check as well. This background check will research and reveal any potential tenant’s past criminal history, if any exists.
Always be conscientious and wary of tenant data
Remember that the internet can be a place with much false information too. Prospective tenants can post false information designed to deceive unwary landlords. So credit and background checks may not be so foolproof as they used to be anymore, because false information (disinformation) can be widely disseminated very easily nowadays.
In addition, prior landlords can be “set up” by the prospective tenant to await your call, and give that tenant a glowing review. In fact, these people may not be prior landlords, but in fact could be friends or family. A few pointed questions about the landlord business and their current holdings will help you uncover their veracity, and give you a good idea just how real the reference is turning out to be. Then you’ll have a much better idea of whether to trust the prospective tenant.
Tenant screening services
Another option available to property investors who manage their own properties, is to utilize a tenant screening service to pull these reports, and issue one comprehensive report to you, the landlord. One of the best tenant screening services is offered by Experian, yes, the same Experian that provides credit reporting. Likewise, another tremendously large and reputable credit reporting company, Transunion, offers one of the top tenant screening services as well. You really can’t miss if you utilize either Experian’s or Transunion’s tenant screening services. They are top-flight. If you check online, you can also find more localized companies, if it’s important to get your data closer to home. In addition, check these local companies out by looking at their tenant screening services reviews as well. Their online reviews will provide a wealth of information that will help you in your selection process.
Obtaining the quality tenant
Once chosen, some property investors prefer to pay the tenant screening service directly, while others may have the prospective tenant pay for the service. Either way, the landlord obtains the most up-to-date data available about any possible tenant. The winning combination of a great credit report and commensurately high credit rating and no criminal background will virtually ensure a good tenant. It is for these reasons that finding and securing quality tenants today has become such a science.
Sealing the deal
So you’ve used a tenant screening service, and chosen a great new tenant. Now what? Well, once you’ve chosen your new tenant, be sure to ingratiate yourself with them (thus helping to explode the stereotypical landlord image). On their first day, meet with them to go over the operation of appliances in the unit, as well as to discuss area amenities they should check out. It’s also a good idea to offer them a small housewarming gift too. Remember, this is a business. And it’s always easiest and least expensive for any business to retain clients than it is to search for new ones.
photos courtesy of tenantscreeningblog.com, lpmmags.com, brookdale-pms.co.uk, tenantscreeningblog.com, wilmothpropertyservices.com, lets4u.net, trexglobal.com, mcclurepropertymgmt.com