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!

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