Screening prospective tenants is crucial for a landlord and will save them time and money over time. Not only does this protect the property in question, but might also help you to keep the good tenants which you may already have, who live nearby.
Having prospective tenants fill out a rental application is your first step. This way, all of the information which is provided can be proven if there is ever a disagreement. If all you have is an oral agreement, then it is harder to legally justify it if you have to turn a renter down. If a court situation ever occurs, you have proof on paper that you were justified in rejecting the tenant.
Obtaining a credit report from anyone wishing to have you as a landlord is also great idea. You will be able to tell from this report whether or not the tenant is responsible when it comes to bill paying. If the renter has a former unpaid mortgage, or has ever been bankrupt will also show up in the report. Although some of these issues may not be a valid reason not to rent, a credit report will help identify red flags.
Potential renters should also be able to provide job references, and their income. A person who does not stay long at one job, or has a low salary may not be able to make their payments.
Credit reports are a great resource for showing the financial habits of a tenant, but it will not reveal personality traits, such as cleanliness. It will also not include whether or not the person is a difficult neighbor, or is destructive. This is why it is essential to contact former landlords, and get references from anyone you are considering as a renter.
Before going through your screening process, it is important to study the U.S. Fair Housing Act in order to be sure that you are not violating it. Failure to abide by these law could result in a law suit. Using a person’s race, what they believe in, or handicaps as a reason to turn them down is a legal offense. You must show good reason for denying a potential renter because of this law.
The only real reasons you can turn someone down is legitimate fear that they cannot pay you, or that they will destroy your property. This is so because these actions will put your property at risk. It is easy to prove that you were afraid someone would not pay you if they have done this is their past to other landlords. This is also true if the renter has destroyed other rental properties in the past.