First time screening tenant

8 Replies

Hey everyone,

In March 2016, we bought our first property which is a duplex in Philadelphia that me and my fiance house hack.  We inherited tenants which we had until September of this year.  The apartment needed a total overhaul which we are finishing up now.  So long story short, we are about to find tenants for the first time.  I know a lot of the basics but wanted to reach out to see if anyone else had any tips, tricks, or strategies they do or don't use when searching.  Thanks in advance for any advice.


@Jay Sechowicz A few tips that helped me land good tenants in my house-hack:

When marketing, put a big For Rent sign with your phone number in large numbers. Set up a Google Voice number if you don't want to have your phone number out in the public. Then, list the unit on the sites that everyone uses. Craigslist and Hotpads are the best (I think when you list on hotpads it automatically gets listed to Zillow, Trulia, Padmapper, etc. 

Make sure you set requirements to weed out potential bad tenants. Set a minimum credit score (600) and salary (3x monthly rent). Make your tenant pay for a background check and credit check ( is good for this, it's free to use and they can do background and credit checks. You can also set up your tenants to make automatic payments on Cozy).

A lot of the forms I used in the application process came with the book on rental properties by Brandon Turner (besides the lease - get something that is specific to Philadelphia and PA). When you buy it on Kindle the forms come in Word form so you can just throw your address and names on them. Helped me out a lot.

Good luck - I hope you find tenants that will really make the rental income passive. 

First off Download the landlord tenant laws for your state.

Find out if thier is a landlord association in your county.. they would have leases that you should be able to use that are court and state recognized.

Several sites have screening that applicants can get pre approved on. 

Personally I never put a for rent sign in the yard, I try and avoid door knockers and neighbors questions I don't want to deal with someone just walking up.

I take good photos list online, Zillow, Craigslist, ect and get tenants that way.

Set you rental criteria,, income level to equal about 2.5 times the rent. credit score, criminal, no evictions, number of people you will permit to live in unit, don't go over occupancy. Pets.. I hope no pets.. and stick to that for all applicants

good luck

@Jay Sechowicz  

Hey man, I am also currently in the process of buying a MFP in Philadelphia pa. Its a Triplex and I`m having the Home inspection tomorrow. I can send you a copy of the lease I plan on using if you would like? 

After I acquire the property (depending on if the Home Inspection goes well.. *Crosses Fingers*) I plan on creating a google voice number as @Richard Jahnle stated and using postlets when advertising.

However, I would not put a sign out of your house when advertising.. I don`t know where your property is in Philadelphia but I would be cautious of homeless people breaking into your house or burglars especially considering the weather.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to reach out to me. Maybe we could meet up and share ideas on how we can help one another improve our properties.


Thanks everyone.  The google voice is definitely something i will look into.  @Jordan Turner I appreciate it but I don't need a lease.  I was more just looking for what people look for when finding tenants outside of the obvious.  Maybe clever questions they ask or things like that.  I didn't want to put a rent sign outside so I'm glad you guys agree. A friend of mine told me about postlets too so that is what I am going to use.  

Postlet was bought out by zillow. It’s morphed into zillow rental manager. Once you list there, it auto lists to trulia and hotpads. I don’t bother with for rent signs either, I assume my tenants are savy enough to start online.

I love google voice for landlord business. Text, call, VM all with a separate phone number is awesome. It writes out VMs into a text message so I don’t even have to listen to them.

Do you still do everything through your current cell phone? Or does it have to be at the computer?

What are the benefits besides just the public not having your phone number?  You still have to field all the calls somehow

Good advice from Jordan. Squatters seem to be a real issue in Philly. Hard to remove them. I believe there is a law in city council by Councilman David Oh to change the squatters rights to be more owner friendly. As they should be.