Renting out property is a meticulous process. You need to constantly keep in mind various legal, economic and marketing aspects of renting. One of the most important things is to find a right tenant. Renting long-term is much different from short-term and vacation rental in this regard. It is not a short stay with minimum obligations. It is a long-haul, a partnership where you entrust tenant with your property. This entails binding legal agreements, trust, and mutual responsibilities. That is why you need to select the most trustworthy and credible candidates. The process of considering applications and interviewing potential tenants is very similar to interviewing for the job. You have plenty of applicants and some of them are bad candidates. You need to master the skills of separating good candidates from the bad. Luckily, there are several telltale signs that can help you to spot a bad sheet.
As a homeowner, you should first consider the security of your property. A tenant with a history of felonies might be dangerous for your neighbors and the property. Such tenants might solicit illegal activity on the premise, and you might be held accountable for that. At the end of the day, it is your property, regardless of who was renting it at that time. It is your responsibility to ensure that no illegal activity is happening in your house. The best way to keep your tenant in check is to perform a thorough screening and background check. For that, you need to get tenants consent. In most states, you have a right to reject tenants if they have been convicted of drug offenses, sex offenses or violent crimes. Those instances of law-breaking indicate that the individual can be a threat to your, your neighborhood or other tenants.
Another major concern for the landlord is finding a tenant who will be able to pay every month on time without delays. This question is not only about you tenant having enough funds or a high paying job, but about consistent financial behavior. The most effective option to check your tenant for those qualities is to run a background check. The potential tenant has to consent to a credit check to legally perform one. Someone who is not willing to run a background check is definitely showing you a red flag. If the applicant is not eager to share the credit history, there are good chances that there is something to hide. This procedure should be mandatory for all of you prospective tenants.
After you receive the credit report, review it carefully and watch for the following indicators.
Score. The score is pretty straightforward. You can take a glance and quickly assess the financial standing of the candidate. The score in the major credit bureaus is usually between 300 and 850. Anybody with a credit score below 600 should be avoided, it is a terrible score. The ideal candidates should be somewhere between 700 and 800. This score indicates trustworthiness and responsible financial behavior. Those candidates repay their loans, don’t default on credit cards and carefully build their credit portfolio.
Report. The actual credit report is divided into four different categories: identifying information, credit history, public records, and inquiries. You should pay attention to two crucial sections: credit history and public records. Credit history is the core of the report. This section includes all the credit cards, mortgages, and loans. Here you can review your tenant’s previous payments, debts, and assets the financial reliability. A significant delay in payments or other irregular financial behavior should also be reflected in the credit history. Public record section includes things like court judgments and bankruptcies. If this section is filled, it is a major red flag.
History of Evictions
If your potential renter has been evicted in the past that might be reflected on the credit check. However, not all of the landlords report the delinquent tenant. It is a lengthy procedure and requires continuous communication with a credit bureau. If the unpaid lease payments were collected through court there is a better chance that it will appear on the credit history. You can figure out if your tenant has received an eviction letter by checking the references and speaking with the previous landlords.
Eviction is one of the most significant red flags. This may be a result of property damage, rude behavior or late payments. The former landlord is a go-to guy to discover those previous violations and misconduct. Eviction demonstrates the moral character of your tenants, how serious they are about their obligations.
Irregular Employment History
You should look into the employment history of the tenant. This way you can make sure that tenant has a reliable source of income and salary large enough to cover living expenses and rent. If the employment history is fragmented and irregular, it should be a stop sign for you. This may signify that tenant is flaky and cannot hold a steady job. This put you at risk of not receiving regular payments. This kind of tenant probably won’t stick around and will soon move out and relocate. Searching for a new tenant is tedious and stressful, you don’t want to repeat it on a regular basis. Evaluate your tenant’s employment history and consider calling current and former employers. This way you will be confident that your tenant is ready for long and productive cooperation.
An applicant who lies to you is dangerous for your business and not worth your time. If after the screening you found out that tenant lied on the application leave them to their own devices. There is no such thing as a white lie on the rental applications. Fake income estimates, inaccurate employment history or counterfeit references are clear signs that tenant cannot be trusted. You don’t want to enter a legally binding agreement with someone you cannot believe.
Selecting the right tenant shouldn’t be taken lightly. Put some time and effort into this process. At the end of the day, you are not picky; you are protecting your assets. If you are renting out to a person who you don’t know, you need to make sure that this person is honest, reliable and friendly. Keep an eye on the red flags listed above, and you will be able to find a good tenant.
Mariia serves as editor-in-chief and writer for the Rentberry and Landlord Tips blogs. She covers topics such as landlord-tenant laws, tips and advice for renters, investment opportunities in various cities, and more. She holds a master’s degree in strategic management, and you can find her articles in such publications as Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, Benzinga, and RealEstateAgent.