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As the owner of a rental property, you know that most people will be good tenants but also that you cannot avoid having bad renters now and then. While no screening method is a 100% effective, there are specific circumstances you should focus on that will provide you with better chances at finding a good tenant for your rental property. Managing your rental correctly and finding the right tenants will make your business a lot more successful. The best tenants for your property should be able to pay their rent on time, take good care of your property, and are easy and reasonable to work with.


Follow the Law

Landlords are required by law to treat all their tenants equally. There is a law called the Federal Fair Housing Act which states that you are not allowed to discriminate against individuals for their behavior or class. You can ask any question to your tenants but you cannot discriminate or question them based on:

  • Race / Skin Color
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Family Status
  • Disability

It is your obligation as a landlord to follow this law to its last line since you can be fined or worse, put to jail if you repeatedly offend this law. In addition, most states have their own Fair Housing laws, It is recommended to consult an experienced lawyer from law firms like McQuarrie in order to fully understand their laws.

Choose Someone Who is Stable

When checking at their application form, check the applicant’s recent addresses and employment history. Are they constantly changing addresses or switching jobs? If they move frequently, the more likely this habit will continue which means you will have to handle a vacancy again. If they have no consistent job, they probably can’t afford your property within a few months of stay and you will be left searching for another tenant again or be dealing with someone’s eviction.

Do a Background Check and Analyze Credit Report

Require your applicants to submit a credit report so you can check their credit score. A high credit score is the best choice but any score above 680 is good. The report also shows your tenant’s payment history which shows if they are a good payer and if they have existing debts. This financial data is critical since it tells you if a tenant is capable of paying your rent and the likelihood of paying on time.

In addition, doing a background check is a good idea as an added measure. It shows if a tenant has a criminal record. In general, you should consider the severity of the crime, how many crimes they have committed, the frequency of each crime and the relevance of the crimes. 

Some crimes to take seriously are vandalism, arson, robbery, unauthorized possession of a deadly weapon and other violent crimes. Nobody wants a person who is violent or someone who can steal and destroy your newly renovated rental property. You can also be held liable for letting a person with a bad criminal history stay at your property.

Ask a Lot of Questions

The final and most important tip is to ask a lot of questions and never settle until you get the answer you want. When you meet with a potential renter to look at your property, be sure to tour them around and ask them about their hopes, needs and rent goals. By asking questions, you will get to know them better and it will give you a basic outlook of what they are as renters.

You can screen all the applicants you want, but sometimes trusting your instincts will help you judge a person’s character. Trust your screening process and follow the tips above but you should also have to trust your guts. Be patient and the right applicant will come.