Best Tenant Screening Tips Explained by a San Diego Property Manager

  • AMG Props
November 30, 2018

Screening your tenant is extremely important when you’re leasing a property. You want to be sure the best and most qualified tenant is in your rental, and the key is to screen every prospective tenant thoroughly. This process does not have to be difficult.

Providing an Application

Every potential tenant who is 18 years of age or older should fill out an application. The application must be the same for every applicant so you can easily compare one to the other. It should plainly state that a background check, criminal history, and credit check will be conducted. The application is basically the tenant giving you the authorization for these checks. There are several things to look for on the completed application:

  • Current and previous employers – How long as this tenant been employed? Has the tenant had multiple jobs over the last few years?
  • Current income – Will the tenant’s income cover the rent requirements as well as the normal costs of living?
  • Pet information – Will the tenant be bringing any animals into your property?
  • Rental references – You need the names and contact information of current and former landlords or property managers.

Run a Credit Check

Take a look at the tenant’s credit history, because it can tell you a great deal about the tenant’s approach to finances. Look for any history of late payments, collections, or bankruptcies. Tenants with negative histories will more than likely continue their pattern when they’re in your property. Looking at current debt is also a good idea. If a prospective tenant has maxed out loans and credit cards, that may be a red flag that they will struggle each month to pay your rent.

Conduct a Background Check

Criminal history is important, especially convictions for property damage, drugs, theft, or assault. You don’t want to see any prior charges for property damage or evictions. You can always get more details on an eviction if one should pop up on the background check. Checking public records is also a good idea. You will not want to rent your property to someone who has been sued for unpaid rent.

Talk to Former Landlords

Contacting former landlords is something you must do when screening tenants. A few things to ask might be:

  • Does the tenant owe you any debt?
  • Does the tenant have a history of late payments?
  • Has the tenant caused any major damage to the property?
  • Would you rent to this tenant again?

Contacting a tenant’s employer can also provide you with some financial information. You can verify the tenant has a steady job and is reliable. You can also always request paystubs from the tenant to verify the amount of income that’s earned.

Interview the Tenant

Sometimes, the biggest screening tool is a simple phone call. You can find out a lot about a tenant’s lifestyle by asking questions. Remember your fair housing requirements. Landlords cannot discriminate during the screening process, but you can always ask about pets or the reason the prospective tenant is moving.

Tenant screening is never something to skip or rush through. If you don’t have the time or the resources to adequately screen your San Diego tenant, contact us at AMG Props.

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