How to Screen Tenants: An Essential Guide for Landlords

How to Screen Tenants: An Essential Guide for Landlords

America is a nation of renters. 36% of American households relied on renting in 2019. 

Some renters are reliable and easy-going, while others struggle with making payments on time. You won't know which applicants are reliable unless you know how to screen tenants. 

What laws do you have to follow for your tenant application? What should your rental description look like? How can you conduct tenant interviews? 

Answer these questions and you can find great tenants for your properties in no time. Here is your quick guide. 

Be Mindful of Discrimination Laws

The Fair Housing Act is the national anti-discriminatory bill for housing. A landlord cannot make housing unavailable to people due to immutable characteristics like their race, sex, and disability. They cannot discriminate against people because of their religion, familial status, and national origin. 

It is okay to adopt principles for screening tenants. You can prohibit pets or cigarette smoking on your property. But these principles must be consistent, applying to all tenants regardless of their personal background.

Write a Good Rental Description

Before you start advertising your property, you should consider your minimum criteria for a tenant. Think about what credit score and job history you would like them to have. Consider an amount you want as a security deposit. 

Write these criteria in your description. This will tailor your application base so you will have higher-quality applicants. 

Be specific and pointed in your language. You can write a range of credit scores, but you should provide exact numbers. 

Conduct Tenant Screening Interviews

Once you have a group of applicants, you should start interviewing them. You can interview over the phone or through videoconferencing software. 

Take the interview as an opportunity to get to know your applicant in detail. Figure out how they are as a person. You can ask them where they are from and what they do for a living. 

You can also evaluate their housing history. Ask them for their previous experiences with renting properties. You can even ask if they have any landlord tips for you, especially on nuanced subjects like rental property accounting

Give Tours

Your interviews may give you enough information to extend a housing offer. If you still have a group of people you need to narrow down, offer tours. An applicant may look at your property and decide it is not a good fit for them. 

You can also assess the qualifications of your applicants in more detail. A good applicant will ask questions and want to see all aspects of your property. 

How to Screen Tenants

You can become a master on how to screen tenants. You must study and abide by all anti-discriminatory laws. When you adopt qualifications for applicants, they must apply to all demographic groups. 

Come up with criteria for applicants and be clear about them. Once you have found a few applicants worth considering, you should talk to them. 

Feel free to give applicants tours. Get a sense of their financial responsibility and personality. 

You are not done once you find a good tenant. HomeRiver Group helps Dallas and Fort Worth landlords manage their properties. Contact us today. 

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