While there’s tremendous success to be had in the world of investment properties, the unsightly truth is that one bad tenant can break your heart and put a dent in you saving.
It’s hard enough to keep up with wear and tear on your investment property without having to deal with willful destruction to your property.
The good news is that an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure. While you can’t always foresee issues with renters, reduce the chances of problem tenants renting from you in the first place.
Having a GREAT screening process is one of the best ways that you can protect yourself and your properties. Here are a few good points in choosing a better tenant.
- Require a Tenant Application
The right questions can help you to sift through unqualified tenants at the start. Use a written application. Ask each adult to provide basic information, such as name, date of birth, contact information, emergency contacts, and request similar information about any children who live with them.
In addition to asking the date they hope to move in, ask these questions:
- Do you have any pets?
- Do you smoke?
- Have you ever been evicted?
- Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
Be sure to request references, employment information, and a way to contact their previous landlord.
- Interview Tenants
The interview is vital. This is your chance to screen prospective tenants and find out whether or not they’re an ideal match for your property. Show the property yourself and while you are walking through ask questions like:
- Is your income the same every month, or does it vary?
- Why are you moving?
- Describe your perfect rental space.
- What’s your favorite or least favorite thing about the place you’re living in now?
The interview should give you a good idea about whether or not the prospective tenant will be able to afford the rent and abide by the terms of your rental.
- Conduct Diligent Research
Always follow through with a check of potential tenants’ references, credit, and possible criminal background. Verify important information that the tenant provides, particularly current employment and previous rental history. This sounds easy but sometimes we meet really nice people and think ‘they will be fine I do not have to check them out’. Follow through and treat each tenant the same.
- Watch for Warning Signs
Look out for red flags that can alert you to a potential problem tenant. If the applicant makes you feel nervous or seems desperate to move in as quickly as possible, that could be a warning sign.
And watch out for candidates who question every aspect of your rental application process, as this may be an indicator of someone who will be unwilling to abide by your rules when renting. Legitimate candidates understand that it’s important for you to conduct credit and background checks, and most will appreciate the care you take in selecting tenants.
Be sure to compare the application and your notes from the interview to what comes up on the background check. Be extremely wary of any discrepancies.
- Keep It Legal
Of course, as important as it is to have a solid tenant screening process, it’s also important to ensure that your process complies with the law. While you should watch out for warning signs, never screen tenants based on feelings alone. Be careful to use the same qualifying procedure for all applicants, and treat all candidates equally to prevent accusations of discrimination.
- Get It in Writing
Finally, once you have found a tenant for your property, it’s important to make sure you have a rental agreement in place. This document should contain clear guidelines and will help ensure that you and the tenant are both on the same page, preventing problems from arising later on due to miscommunication. The agreement should include the names of all the residents, occupancy limits, and rental terms, including late fees, acceptable payment methods, and charges if a rent check fails to clear.
Tenant screening procedure can be time-consuming but a solid screening procedure can save time, money and prevent a world of hassle. You’ll be able to weed out problem renters and save yourself from costly evictions and extensive repairs down the road. Finding a tenant that’s a great match for your property is more than worth the time and effort it takes. You’ll thank yourself later.
These are all things that are done at DDH Realty, LLC. Some people are very successful at managing their own property. Use the above suggestions, but if things become overwhelming, contact me to help you.