Screening New Prospective Rental Applicants: Tenant Screening

Learn How To Perform a Tenant Credit Check and Four Other Ways to Screen a Tenant

Landlords should try and find the best renters available, who will pay in a timely manner and not damage the property. This can be accomplished with tenant screening by performing credit checks and other pre-leasing tests. Here are the proper ways to screen a new rental applicant or someone who is not a new applicant (but is raising suspicion) for an apartment or townhome:

  1. Perform a credit check through your local Credit Bureau or sign up with a company where you can do it through your company's personal computer. A few good companies that provide this tenant credit check service are DataFaxInc., CBC Innovis and CompleteLandlord. We suggest the applicant have a score that is 580 or higher to be approved. If all other screening tests come back with good results, you may want to approve an applicant with a score between 520 to 580.
  2. Perform a criminal background check through your local Credit Bureau. These screenings assure that your rental properties are free from criminal activity.
  3. Check the applicant's previous rental references. Try and check at least two of them. Also, check the addresses that come back on the Credit Report and see if they match what was listed on his application. If they do not match, ask the applicant for an explanation.
  4. Verify his employment through his current employer. Many employers will not confirm the applicant's pay rate but will just confirm that he is employed there and his hire date.
  5. Require the applicant to have no bankruptcies in the last year or two. This can be found out by looking on the Credit Check report. When an application shows a bankruptcy in the past couple of years, either don't rent the property or look to see how he has done since then as far as payingbills and managing credit obligations.

By performing these above steps, a landlord can do tenant screening and avoid renting to someone more likely not to pay his rent and/or do damage to the apartment or townhome.

The rental industry should strive to start implementing the same requirements for all applicants, regardless of whether you are a small landlord with just 1 or 2 properties or a very large corporate landlord with 200 units under ownership. If landlords had the same system of checks and balances in place to report bad tenants, this would allow the them to gain a higher quality tenant. With some universal system of checks and balances, those that like to break leases and cause damages would find it harder to continue their behavior. We hope this guide for how to screen a new applicant will keep you, as a landlord,to stay free from renting to irresponsible parties.

Richard Messler

First Troy Corp. Rentals 



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This article gives a brief step by step definition of how to screen new applicants for renting of apartments and townhomes.