In your journey to identify, place, and retain high quality residents for your Pleasanton rental property, you need to have a strong screening process in place.
The application and screening process is a short term undertaking, but it has a long reaching impact.
The most critical thing to remember is that you have to maintain consistent standards that comply with all fair housing laws. Put together written and documented rental criteria and screen every applicant equally. This will protect you against legal issues and discrimination claims. Include those standards in your marketing or hand them out to prospective residents before they even apply.
What to Consider in the Screening Process
You know what you’re supposed to look at: credit history, rental history, income, and criminal background. Those are just buzz words; what do they really mean and how do you use those tools to find the right resident?
Here’s what you should be checking:
- A credit report can reveal a lot about a person’s financial situation. Look for financial patterns in their credit history and evaluate whether bills are paid on time. This will provide insight into what type of resident you’ll have and whether this person will likely pay on time or need to be reminded that rent is overdue. Specific things you should be concerned about include accounts in collection, a high debt to income ratio, and money owed to former landlords. Check for a history of evictions and any warning signs that there might be a bankruptcy or other financial distress.
- An important part of the screening process is assessing income. An ideal resident must earn enough money to pay for rent every month. Verify employment and income. Ask for documentation like pay stubs, bank statements, employment letters, or tax forms.
- To understand a tenant’s rental history, you can conduct landlord references. The way a tenant has treated landlords and properties in the past is a good indication of how they perform in your property. Ask for landlord contact information, and talk to them about whether rent was paid on time. Ask if there was any property damage beyond wear and tear, and if the resident had pets. Find out if the lease terms were followed and if enough notice was given before the resident moved out. Always ask if the landlord would be willing to rent to that person again.
Protect Your Process with Standard Screening Criteria
Before you begin screening, review your rental application and your set of standard rental criteria.
The rental application provides the first part of a formal evaluation structure, which helps you to determine whether or not an applicant fits your requirements. The second part of that structure is your qualifying rental criteria.
Create the criteria that reflects what you’re looking for in a resident. Then, put that rental criteria in writing. Not only do you need it for your own process, you also want to share it with any potential applicants who visit your home and express an interest in applying. This keeps you compliant with all fair housing laws.
There’s a lot that must go into screening residents, and you have to invest the time and resources. The right resident will provide for a more successful and profitable rental experience than a resident who is not qualified.
Talk to us. We’ll help you put together a consistent screening process or find you a great resident ourselves. Contact our team at Advantage Property Management Services.