The Advantages of a Tenant Screening

October 8, 2018

There are several reasons you should conduct tenant screenings. Bad renters can drain your time and energy, cause problems with neighbors, damage your property and cut into profits. They can force you to move forward with costly evictions if they fail to pay their rent or cause too many disturbances. We’ve all heard at least one tenant horror story. Most often these circumstances could be completely avoided if you screen rental applicants from the beginning.

Many landlords believe in old-fashioned, relaxed interviewing methods. Unfortunately, choosing tenants based on your personal feelings doesn’t always work out for the best. In order to ensure sustainable and reliable income, landlords should take steps to thoroughly screen tenants beforehand. Also, ask that they provide a reference letter.

Although it may seem easier to bypass tenant screening in favor of shorter vacancy periods, it may not be the most financially savvy decision. You may assume that getting a property rented quickly will save you money. Yet, horrible tenants can become profit drainers later on.  Here are the main reasons to conduct criminal, credit and eviction checks on all of your applicants.


Protect your property from criminals

You should always conduct a full criminal background check as part of your screening process. Many applicants could have criminal convictions on their record, and it’s important to review their criminal history before letting them sign a lease agreement. An applicant may have a very old and relatively minor criminal conviction.

a person wearing an orange jumpsuit and holding their hands behind their back while someone stands behind and puts handcuffs on them

Or, they may just be guilty of a few small traffic violations. However, they could also have burglary convictions, destruction of property or domestic violence on their record. Landlords should review criminal records carefully, and on an individual basis. The best way to avoid renting your apartment to someone who is a threat to the neighborhood is by always asking for a thorough criminal background check.


Understand the applicant’s financial situation

Reviewing a complete credit report is vital to most landlords. A full credit report can alert landlords about potential financial problems the applicant may be experiencing. It’s good to know exactly why an applicant has a low credit score too. By reviewing a credit report, you can find out how much debt the applicant has in comparison to income, also known as the debt-to-income ratio. Some property owners may not care as much about student loan or medical debt, versus credit card debt. It’s also good to know how recently the debts have occurred. If an applicant faced financial struggles in the past, but now makes all monthly payments on time, it may be okay to overlook the lower score.


Learn about your applicant’s payment history

This brings us to the next step: payment history. It’s important to gather previous landlord and employment references. Reference checks are a great way to confirm your applicant’s track record for paying the monthly rent on time. You should also ask to verify your applicant’s employment history and look at pay stubs to confirm that they are earning enough to afford your rental property.


Help prevent future evictions

No landlord enjoys the eviction process. Having to remove a tenant can be a stressful, difficult, often lengthy and expensive process. By learning about your rental applicant’s past eviction history, you can help prevent future evictions. Landlords often think they can learn about evictions by reading credit reports.

a large white van sits in a parking lot with the back doors open. There are lots of cardboard boxes both inside the van and outside on the ground

Unfortunately, credit reports only share eviction information when monetary judgments are attached. An actual eviction report is different. It will share every problem a tenant has had in regards to evictions. This includes unlawful detainees, tenant judgments for rent, failure to make rent payments, warrants of eviction and judgments for possession and money.


Peace of mind

A good tenant will pay rent on time, treat your property with respect, be kind to the neighbors and demonstrate responsibility. By being consistent with a full tenant screening process, you will be much more likely to choose a reliable tenant. Doing a screening beforehand, quite simply, can give you peace of mind.


In conclusion

Being consistent with a good tenant screening process for every applicant can help save you time and money. A full screening should make it less likely that you will have to deal with an eviction later on. It will also save you energy because you won’t have to regularly check on your renters due to lack of payments, noise complaints or damage to your rental property.

If you are a landlord interested in seeking help or guidance managing your rental property, get in touch with Blueground. We help landlords in similar situations on a regular basis. We guarantee a steady cash-flow and a maximized annual yield. Also, we handle all maintenance and tenant issues in a highly professional manner. We offer flexible contracts and carefully screen tenants to ensure only the best people are staying in your property. Blueground is here to help with all of your property needs.

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