Tenant screening and leases

3 Replies

Starting out, how do you go about tenant screening and writing up a lease? I'm wanting to get into long term investing and want to select good tenants. How do you go about getting a potential tenants credit score, rental history, etc? Also, in regards to a lease, does everyone type out their own lease or are there templates you can use and just customize?

Hi there! I use smartmove by trans union to check background and credit. You can set the criteria to be more or less stringent (I make mine more stringent). Some of the things I ask for include copies of DL, pay stubs, past rental references, proof of renters insurance, and copies of vaccination/rabies certificates for dogs (after I’ve met their pets). I have a minimum credit score of 650 and make sure that the income is 3x the rent. I also use EZlandlord for my forms. I’m sure that others have different criteria they work with or other suggestions but this is what works for me. I have really good, long term tenants in my properties. But this was all learned the hard way about 15 years ago when we bought our first property. 😊Goodluck!

Thanks for the tips, Amber! 

Hi Chris, 

My suggestion would be to start out by writing your list of criteria before you even begin searching for a tenant. People's criteria really varies, but for good longer term tenants, I would be a little picky. Make sure to include credit score, income requirements, prior evictions, and criminal history. 

When you screen a tenant, there credit score will show. However, for rental history, you can ask for names and phone numbers on their application. I would recommend not calling their current landlord and focusing more on previous landlords. The reasoning for this is if they are a bad tenant, their current landlord may say nice things to get them out of their current location. 

I would not write out your own lease, especially as you start out. Look online for a state specific lease or even meet with an attorney your first time to get a state specific lease written out and customized to what you are looking for. 

If you need recommendations for screening services, please reach out!

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.

By signing up, you indicate that you agree to the BiggerPockets Terms & Conditions.