As a landlord, you want tenants who look after your property, pay rent on time, and stay till the end of their lease (or even renew it). Getting fantastic and affable tenants begins with the screening process and knowing how to do it without getting into trouble is an art that every landlord should learn.

Create a Screening Process

Don’t make your screening process ad hoc. Instead, create a step-by-step screening process. Make sure you have an application that asks them the following questions:

§  Reason for leaving this current home or apartment

§  Place of work

§  Information about their bank accounts

§  Personal habits, like smoking

§  Pet ownership

Create criteria for approving a prospective tenant’s application. This will help you select one who fulfills your requirements.

Educate Yourself about Federal Fair Housing Laws

There are federal laws that protect prospective tenants from being rejected for no reason by landlords. It is important you know the laws, so that your screening process conforms to them. Make sure you don’t select or reject prospective tenants based on their gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. In fact, you cannot question tenants about these things at all.

Let Applicants Know the Terms of the Lease

Make sure you let applicants know about the terms of your lease from the very beginning. For instance, if you have a security deposit, let them know the amount. By letting them know the terms, you let prospective tenants also decide whether they want to rent your property. If they don’t want to, they walk away, ensuring you don’t waste time or effort trying to market your property to them. Write down the terms and give a copy to the prospective tenants, so that they can read and understand them.

Perform a Thorough Reference Check

Although time consuming, you will thank yourself later if you check the references the applicants provides. Get permission to call the workplace, existing landlord and other references that the applicant has provided. Be sure to question the prospective tenant’s character.

Refuse in Writing

If you refuse to rent out your property to a prospective tenant, always do so in writing and keep a copy in your file. Make sure you clearly highlight the reason for refusal, so that the applicant knows the exact reason.

Screening tenants and finding a dream tenant can be time consuming. However, if you hire a stellar and reliable property management company, every aspect of the screening process will be taken care of. You don’t even have to worry about legalities, as such, since a company has knowledgeable property managers who know federal laws and make sure it is a win-win process for the landlord and tenant.