Finding a good tenant can be a daunting process. Working your way through endless stacks of applications shows little about a person’s character, personality, and ability to hold down the fort.
When considering having to potentially clean up after a whirling dervish or part ways, teary-eyed and sad that your relationship has come to a close, what should you look for in a new tenant? How do you go about choosing one application over another? Most importantly, who do you want living in your property that will add value to your brand, property, or company? Let’s take a look at some of the smartest qualities and attributes to look for in your new renters:
1. No Relevant Criminal History
You have a responsibility as a landlord and property owner to provide safety for yourself and the rest of your tenants. That being said, it’s alarming that nearly one in five applicants now has at least one legal smear on their record. Running an online background check will allow you to avoid putting potentially destructive or dangerous renters in your property. Treat these situations on a case-by-case basis, and screen candidates as you consider the nature and severity of the offense. While all infractions are not necessarily deal breakers, there will be some that you just won’t want to take a risk on.
2. Clean Eviction Record
The cost of an average eviction process for a landlord is about $3500 and can take three to four weeks to process. If you are a small-property institution, this can be more than you bargained for in terms of time and money. Avoid the hassle of dealing with tenants who won’t pay their rent, and you’ll be less likely to deal with repeat offenders in the future.
3. Good Credit History
Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more difficult for many individuals, couples, and families to keep up with the financial demands being placed on them. It would be great if we could offer everyone an affordable place to live, but we need to pay the bills too. Checking an applicant’s credit history will offer you some insight into whether you’ll deal with issues of late or non-payment in the future, as tracking down those missing debts can be a strain on you and your tenants.
4. Stable Income
As a landlord, it is essential that you have proof of income to feel confident in a potential tenant’s ability to pay rent on time. An industry rent-to-income standard states that a tenant should make close to or three times the cost of monthly rent. If an apartment yields $1000 per month, a potential tenant would have to show proof of income at or exceeding $3000 to qualify. Using this clean formula will help to quell any disagreements that may arise with a potential tenant as to whether renting will be an option.
It is essential that you follow a screening protocol that will help reveal discrepancies in an application. Recent data indicates that the most common tenant scams include identity theft, falsifying identification details, fictional online identities, inflating income or employment status, and failing to report details related to criminal record or eviction history.
Running a background check and performing reference checks will help you weed through those who think they’re above the law. You want a tenant who is honest and trustworthy, not someone who is coming in under false pretenses.
6. Respectful Behavior
Gaining a tenant who is respectful to you and to other neighbors is critical to creating the kind of community you wish to have. In addition, respectful renters will be more likely to follow lease conditions, get along with neighbors, and form a positive relationship with you. Were they good tenants at their last place of residence? Were there any noise complaints or issues with neighbors? Was rent paid on time, and did damage occur to the unit in which they lived? Having answers to these questions will tell you much about a person’s character, and whether you want them to be a part of your community.
Any rental applicant can look great on paper. As a landlord, it is your job to get to know potential tenants before they sign on the dotted line. Knowing what you’re getting into will help you make the right decisions as you seek to fill upcoming vacancies.