The longer the unit or property remains unoccupied, the bigger the loss it is to the owner and the property manager. Thus, shortening the vacancy period is often a priority for all property managers. However, that does not mean they can hasten the screening process as that can lead to serious trouble in the future. Here are five essential tenant screening steps that a property manager must follow.
Draft Tenant Criteria
When you draft your listing, you must create and list appropriate tenant criteria for the property. The applicant must be aware of whether they are allowed to smoke on the property or not. You must also list down policies relating to pets and any other requirements and stipulations about the preferred tenant lifestyle.
The criteria must also include desires income level of the potential tenant, essential lease agreement terms, credit score, rental references, and criminal and tax records. The applicant must be well aware that you will run a thorough background check, so they don’t try to scam you with fake references and information.
The second step is to conduct phone interviews. A one on one conversation with each potential tenant allows you to ask questions about their application. Through phone interviews, you can also re-iterate the policies your layout in the criteria so that the tenant is under no misconception that they can go against your requirements and restrictions once they move in.
Rental Application fees
Charging a rental application fee is another way of sifting through the applicants. It is probably one of the best ways to get quality tenant applications as those who are trying to scam you will shy away from having to pay a fee for it.
Even though this technique substantially lowers the number of applications you will receive, it is ideal for emergencies. You can quickly sort through the quality applications you receive and fill up the vacancy as fast as possible.
A background check is not something you can skip, nor are there any shortcuts you can take. You will have to conduct a proper credit score check as well as verify employment information. Checking criminal and tax records are also a must as these can prove quite troublesome later on. You can also look into prior evictions if any.
Confirm Tenant References
Faking references is perhaps the most common form of a rental scam, which is why verifying them is the most critical step. You must look into a copy of the lease agreement and contact the landlord or property manager in charge. You can even contact the neighbors and ask about noise complaints, if any.
Simply asking around can help verify whether a reference is real or fake. It may be time-consuming but will surely save you a lot of hassle later on.
Tenant screening is like pulling out the weeds from a field. It is definitely a lengthy procedure, and you may even need to have an in-person meeting or two, but it is very rewarding. Finding quality tenants is a blessing for both property managers and landlords. As long as you follow these essential tenant screening steps, you can effortlessly find one.