Before you put a tenant in your vacancy, be sure to thoroughly screen them. When you have a system in place and you perform your due diligence on ALL applicants, the chances are, you will NOT end up with a deadbeat tenant. Below are 7 steps to follow when screening your prospective tenants.
By following these 7 steps, you can simplify your
screening process, become more organized, save time
and increase your chances of avoiding a future eviction.
Create your written criteria and give it to all applicants at the same time you give them the Application to Rent. This list helps you in two ways:
A Sample Criteria List can be found in the forms section of Tenantscreening4less.com. You can use this as a guide to create your own list. Keep in mind, that you can have different requirements and a separate list for each building you own.
One of the requirements on your criteria list should be that you receive a fully completed and SIGNED application by the applicant in order to qualify. Please note: you cannot run screening reports (Credit, criminal, or eviction) without the applicant’s signature.
At the time you accept the application, be sure the applicant has also submitted your required documents, such as pay stubs, a copy of their driver’s license and whatever else you have on your written criteria. Also, collect the credit screening fee in cash, Cashier’s check or Money Order at the same time. Once you have everything you need, you can begin the screening process without having to go back to the applicant or wait for them to get you needed documents.
Some states require you to provide the applicant with a receipt itemizing your credit check and screening fees at the time you accept the application and screening fees. Check with your local association. Tenantscreening4less.com provides a free form for your convenience. Please keep in mind that you should only charge your actual out of pocket costs plus “a reasonable value of time spent” for background checks, personal information and employment verification. ($10 at the most). $30 - $50 is common, however; currently, the law in California states that you cannot charge more than $45.99 for each applicant – (this amount changes periodically – usually on an annual basis). Again, check your local laws. Be sure to keep a copy of the receipt for your records.
Our goal is to make the screening process as painless as possible for you. Print out or save – the Applicant Screening Checklist to use for each rental applicant. The screening checklist will guide you through the steps, keep you organized during the process and will serve as a reminder of proper screening procedures and suggestions.
You can screen your tenants online 24/7 at tenantscreening4less.com. There are several low-cost screening packages available that give you fast, easy and accurate information. Have your tenant pay for a thorough 5-Star Screening Report which includes:
If the reports that you have run on the applicant are acceptable, move on to step six.
Using the free Tenantscreening4less.com Applicant Screening Checklist as a guide, thoroughly check out your applicant. This includes:
Once completed, if you received favorable information and the applicant meets all of your qualifications, you are ready to rent to your new tenants!
If you choose to reject your applicant, you are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to give them an “adverse action notice”. Tenantscreening4less.com provides a free form, the Tenant Rejection Notice for this purpose. If you do not rent to them because of negative information received from credit reports, you must tell them the name of the agency that reported the negative or insufficient information and their right to obtain a copy of their report. DO NOT EXPLAIN THE REASON FOR THE REJECTION – just give them the completed rejection notice. This notice informs them who to call, provides phone numbers, other information and a copy of their rights. It is recommended to keep rental applications upon rejection for seven years.
By following these steps, you can simplify your screening process, become more organized, save time and increase your chances of avoiding a future eviction. All forms may be found at tenantscreening4less.com