Tenant Screening 101 – What You Need to Know If You’re Renting in Macon

Placing a good tenant in your Macon rental property is important to the success of your investment. You want to avoid the stress and expense that comes with bad tenants by placing tenants who will pay rent on time, take care of your home, and follow the terms of your lease agreement.

When you’re looking high quality tenants, it’s important to implement a good screening process. There are several things we do when we screen tenants, and we’re sharing those tips with you today.

Develop Consistent Rental Standards

Don’t waste your time screening tenants who will not be qualified to rent your home. It’s always a good idea to provide a list of your rental standards in writing. This tells prospective tenants what you’ll be looking for when you screen their applications. It shows you have high standards, which you’re committed to using when you pick a tenant. When you provide applications, make sure every adult who is 18 years of age or older fills out an application. Only accept applications that are complete and signed.

Criminal and Credit Checks

Start your screening process by looking for any type of criminal history. Search databases nationwide, and look for past evictions as well. Review a prospective tenant’s credit score and credit report. You don’t necessarily need to rent to a tenant with perfect credit. But, you do want someone who takes financial responsibilities seriously. Review past debts and make sure no money is currently owed to former landlords or management companies.

Verify Applicants’ Employment and Income

A very important part of the screening process is evaluating income. Your tenants need to earn enough money to pay for rent every month. Conduct reference checks and call employers to verify the applicant works there. Ask how long the individual has been employed, and inquire about salary. You may need to seek income verification as well, through pay stubs or tax records. We recommend you only rent to people who earn at least three times the amount of rent. So, if your rent is $1,000 per month, make sure your prospective tenant earns $3,000 or more every month.   

Contact Landlord References

It’s important to understand a tenant’s rental history. The way a tenant has treated landlords and properties in the past is a good indication of how they perform in your property. Ask for landlord contact information, and talk to them about whether rent was paid on time. Ask if there was any property damage beyond wear and tear, and if the tenant had pets. Find out if the lease terms were followed and if enough notice was given before the tenant moved out. Always ask if the landlord would be willing to rent to that tenant again.

Once you have all the data you need from your screening process, you can make a decision about whether the applicant meets your requirements. Remember to follow all fair housing laws, and screen each application consistently. If you have any questions about tenant screening or you need help finding a good tenant, please contact us at Fickling & Company. We’d be happy to help.