How to Effectively Screen for Quality Tenants

Every landlord wants good tenants who pay their rent on time, do not cause any trouble, and take care of the place as if it belongs to them. However, getting good tenants require effort and time. As a landlord, if you do it properly, you will be able to avoid complications and problems in the future. In the long run, you get to save time and money, while renting your property to high-quality tenants.

Here are some tips to effectively screen for quality tenants:

1. Do Not Rush

To get a high-quality tenant, the first thing you should do is to take your time and don’t rush into renting your property. Carefully screen each applicant, and whenever possible, meet them face to face.

A one-on-one meeting will provide you with a great deal of insight into the individual. Even if the applicant has been referred by someone or through other tenants, you should still screen them properly. Keep in mind that a hasty decision can prove to be a big mistake when it comes to tenant screening.

2. Hire the right Property Management Company

If you feel that you are not able to adequately screen prospective tenants because of your other obligations or for any other reason, it’s a good idea to hire a professional property management company,” according to, a marketing firm with an extensive history in real estate and property management.

A property manager will not only help you market your property and find new tenants, but they will screen them effectively for you. Most property management companies know exactly what is involved in the screening of tenants, and they will do all the hard work for you in exchange for a small fee. If you don’t have the budget, you can do it yourself but make sure you give this task some time and effort.

3. Use Application Forms

Before you rent out your place, make sure every potential tenant completes an application form. You can download free sample rental application forms or make your own.

The application form must cover everything that you need to know about the tenant such as their date of birth, financial information, place of employment, whether they are smokers or non-smokers, whether they have pets or not, their previous residence, social security number, phone, references, and marital status.

The application must state that a criminal and background check will be done so that the applicant can give you the authorization to proceed. As a landlord, it is your responsibility to verify the data in the application.

It’s important that you not only rely on paper references. Do the legwork and call the previous landlord and present employer to verify the facts. If the application has any missing information, ask the applicant. If they do not provide the information you need, proceed with caution.

4. Do a Credit Check

Many states permit the landlord to charge the prospective tenant a small fee for conducting a background and/or credit check. But there are some states that do not allow you to charge the tenant.

Check the laws in your state to be sure. In any case, check the credit score of the tenant and look at their history of late payments, bankruptcies, debts, and so on.

5. Run a Background Check

A background check must be done for all applicants. For a small fee, you can get a lot of detail about the prospective tenant’s past history, including any prior convictions, eviction history, and credit history. All you need to do is order a background or credit check. Evaluate this information carefully and then make your decision.

6. Speak to the Previous Landlord

Your tenant applicant should require the applicant to provide information about their current and previous landlord. But this is not just information that you just file away. You should call the landlord and get feedback on the quality of the tenant. You should verify if the rent was paid on time, why the tenant was moving, and if there was any property damage or other issues.

7. Verify Employment

In order to verify if the applicant has a steady income, you should also speak to their employer before you approve or reject them. You can either contact the employer directly or ask the tenant to supply you with a few recent pay stubs.

In most cases, if you call the employer, they will not divulge the salary but will confirm if the applicant is under their employ.

8. Speak to the Applicant

Conduct a personal interview with the prospective tenant. These are some questions that you can ask. Make sure that any additional questions you ask comply with the Fair Housing Act to avoid any discrimination:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What is your regular workday like?
  • How long do you plan on staying?

Screening prospective tenants is a worthwhile effort if you do not want to get stuck with poor quality tenants. Proper screening does not mean you break any privacy laws or reject people on the basis of their race, background, or ethnicity.

The only thing you need to do is evaluate their financial situation, background, and employment status. The goal is to find a tenant who will take care of the property, pay their rent on time, and stay long-term.

About the author (

Alexander Hassoulas is a digital marketing consultant and co-founder of Upkeep Media Inc. Upkeep Media specializes in working with the real estate industry to improve their online presence through SEO, Paid Ads, Content Marketing, Website Development and Reputation Management.

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