Why You Need To Screen Tenants

By Ashley Paskill on January 16, 2024

As a landlord or a property manager, one of the most important parts of your job is to screen tenants. You need good, responsible tenants to make sure your rental business keeps going. Screening tenants is crucial for making sure you have good tenants and for several other reasons. Screening often means looking into their rental history, criminal background, work history, credit reports, and even references. Good screening makes the rest of your job easier! It is not a process to take lightly, even though screening each person who will be living in a rental is tedious.

Get to know your tenants

Screening your tenants allows you to learn a lot about them. You get an insight into their work history, rental history, and overall background. You get to hear others tell you about their personalities and see how they will be a good fit for your property. A good, thorough screening process will ensure that you are able to gather enough information to know if they will be a good tenant. While no screening process is perfect, a good screening will allow you to see how they will fit in with your other tenants. This will help you be able to build a community of people who get along and like each other.

Avoid potential issues

Again, no screening process is perfect and issues are bound to arise. However, if you ask questions of references about paying on time or property damage, the answers to these questions can be very telling. You would hope and expect the answers to be honest and true so you have a clear picture of the tenant. Talking to previous landlords and even employers can give you a sense of how responsible a tenant will be. Did they show up to work on time and give ample warning if they needed time off? They are likely to pay rent on time and will let you know if they need some extra flexibility one month.

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Well-informed tenant decision

While it may seem tedious, doing a thorough screening of multiple checks and using a variety of references can help you gain a variety of perspectives about a tenant. This can allow you to avoid biases that you may have been blind to and allow you to have as much information as possible. This allows you to make a well-informed decision as to who you want to rent to and who will fit in with your other tenants. Not doing a thorough enough screening can lead to a tenant being problematic down the line. Do not rely on one aspect of the screening process over other parts. Instead, use the information as a whole to get a larger picture of who the tenant really is.

You want them to stay with you long-term

It is no secret that, as a landlord, your income comes from tenants renting your properties. If your property is vacant, you are not making money from that property. When you screen tenants, you will likely see how frequently tenants have moved and why they decided to move. You will likely decide on a tenant who was loyal to a previous landlord compared to a tenant who moved around a lot. Likewise, you would rather go with a tenant who stayed with a landlord because they were responsible for rent and the property. You likely would not choose a tenant candidate who moved around a lot because they could not afford the places they wanted to live in. Verifying references with landlords will help solidify these answers.

Avoid disputes between tenants

Tenants are bound to disagree, especially if a tenant in one apartment is having a huge party and a neighboring tenant does not like the loud music. When you screen tenants, you likely meet up with a tenant multiple times and go through background information. As such, you should gather a sense of their personality before they even move in and see how they may get along with current or even other potential tenants. This step of screening helps to avoid disputes between tenants. Getting to know tenants also allows you to know exactly how to settle disputes and how each person will react to your intervention should it be needed.

Spot false references

When landlords ask for references, potential tenants may put down friends or family members for references. With proper screening questions, you will be able to weed out these false contacts and be able to tell who is real and who is not. Without screening, you may get tricked into thinking a candidate would be a better tenant than they would be, especially if their friends and family members were put down as false references.

Even though screening every possible person who may be living in a rental property seems tedious, it is crucial that you screen potential candidates thoroughly and carefully for a variety of reasons. At the end of the day, it will make your life easier if you put in the work upfront.

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