Tenant Screening 101

Nothing can be worse than renting out your valued home, condo, or studio to some dead-beat habitual evictee that knows the renters laws better than you. "How do I stop this from happening to me?" you ask! Tenant Screening is the answer. You have heard this over and over, I'm sure. However, what exactly are you looking for in this process and what types of screening do you need. There are three reporting reports that are the most common and several others that help bulk up a report.

First is the "Credit Report" This will give you a great look at the ability for the potential tenant to pay the rent. A credit report should have the score and list of the trade lines (open and closed lines of credit with the account standing, good or bad). The credit score runs between 305 and 850, with 850 being the best. A general rule of thumb is 650 and up is good, 550 to 649 is open for review, and 549 or less is not a good applicable.

Second is the "Eviction Report". This report is run by using the applicants SS # and name. It pulls the past addresses associated to him / her and searches the housing courts data base for any filings or evictions matching the name of your applicant. If a match is noted, you should not rent to this applicant unless they were upfront about it while signing the application. If more than 2 evictions are noted, this is a problem tenant.

Third is the "Criminal Background Check" (my favorite). There is no way to be able to look at someone and tell what he / she has in this area. The nicest, most polite, and charismatic person could have the worst criminal past you have ever seen. In your application, get the last 7 years of residency and run those states to see what you get. When you run the Eviction report, you will know what states they lived in. Look to see if they left one off the application, there could be a reason. Your tolerance will apply to what you find.

These three will give the best snapshot as to how qualified you potential tenant is. No amount of screening can guarantee zero problem tenants; however, no screening opens the doors. Tip the odds for good tenants in your favor and being a property manager should be an easier task.

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