Screening for the right tenant is an important part of property management. After all, you want responsible tenants who will do two things:
Live peacefully in your unit without damaging anything; and
Pay rent on time.
Finding tenants who will do both of those things consistently can be difficult. All property owners have the temptation of accepting the first person to show interest in the unit, but as anyone who has any experience in property management can tell you, that can end in disaster. It’s even more difficult because tenants can go to great lengths to hide things in their past from background checks and your inquiries. Learning how to get to the truth and thoroughly vet a potential tenant is crucial. Poor Credit Score and Financial History One of the main things a tenant will try to cover up or keep from you is their credit history. Some of this will inevitably come up when you run a credit report, but there’s more to it than just what the credit bureaus tell you. There’s also whether or not they have been foreclosed, or have been evicted, or have had their wages garnished for any reason, or have been sued for non-payment or have failed to pay child support or alimony. Bad Renter History Prospective tenants with something to hide also don’t want you to know the full story about their previous rental experiences. Being evicted falls under this, but this also includes late rent payments, damage to units, bounced checks, or getting in trouble with the law due to noise violations and other ordinances. This is why references are so important – you want to be able to check with a previous landlord and see that this person has everything in order before you rent out your unit to them. Criminal Record Finally, prospective tenants will try to keep their criminal record from you. Fortunately, that’s not that easy to do. You should be able to check their criminal background through a background check and see if there are any red flags. This isn’t to say you should automatically refuse any tenant with a criminal background; some of the best tenants we’ve seen had records. But, it is something to be aware of. To avoid having to deal with any of this, though, you can hire a property management company who can go through the trouble of finding great tenants on your behalf so you don’t have to.