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Screening a Tenant: Top Criteria to Look For

Andrew L. Propst - Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Property Management Blog

When you're finding new tenants for your rental properties, you can't just take anyone who applies. Not all tenants are good tenants, and part of your job as a property owner is screening a tenant to make sure that they're a good fit.

But what kinds of things should you look for when you're screening a rental applicant? Which things can actually help you determine whether or not someone is going to be good? 

While there's no surefire way to know that a tenant is reliable, we have a few suggestions. Keep reading to learn some of the top things that you should look for during a renter screening. 

Proof of Income and Credit Check

It's important that you know that your new tenant can (and will) pay rent on time. It's the first thing that you should look into.

There are plenty of ways that you can get proof of income from a tenant. Most landlords will ask for paystubs, but keep in mind that people who work for themselves or who work for tips may not have those available.

You should be flexible if you don't want to miss out on a great tenant just because their pay is unconventional. You can ask for a bank statement or other methods of proof if that makes things easier.

This is also a good time to run a credit check. A tenant with bad credit is a red flag. What put them in that position? 

If you're unsure as to whether or not an otherwise great applicant's credit is enough to disqualify them, have a chat. Is the credit score going up right now? Are they new to building credit?

These are important considerations. 

Rental History

Where is your applicant moving from, and why?

It's common for landlords to ask for some form of rental history when they're screening tenants. They may ask for one (or several) previous landlords. These landlords can tell you if they had any trouble with the tenant.

You can also ask about their eviction history. Why did someone evict them? Remember, sometimes it isn't the tenant's fault, so it's important to get that information.

Keep in mind that sometimes people are brand-new to renting. They may be students who are out of the house for the first time or people who have always owned a home. 

Criminal Background Check

It's always a good idea to do a criminal background check before you bring in new tenants. You want to look for red flags. Certain crimes that you want to avoid include sexual misconduct of any kind and the sale of drugs.

Because you're responsible for the safety of your rental, these things may disqualify potential tenants.

Keep in mind that you have to be careful when you're using a background check. There are some rules regarding how you can (and can not) use it under the Fair Housing Act.

Screening a Tenant: Harder Than It Looks

Next time you're screening a tenant to decide if they're a good fit for your rental property, make sure you use our suggestions! You'll have a better chance of finding a new tenant who will fit right in with the rest of your building.

Does all of this seem like a lot of work? We get it. Being a landlord in Idaho Falls can be complicated.

We're here to help you. At Homeriver Group, our property management experts can take care of all of the tasks that you don't have time for, such as marketing, tenant screening, and more.

Contact us so we can start working together today.


Andrew L. Propst