Ultimate Guide to Tenant Screening & Renting Your House

76 Replies

@Austin Payne   Our AC guys tell us the best you can hope for is 20-30 degrees off the outside temperature.  Above 80 degrees I'm going to be concerned but I would be reluctant to put an absolute temperature in a lease.  We have, on occasion, put in a supplemental window unit if the CHA wasn't able to keep up and it became an ongoing issue.  At about 100 degrees and below, our units can usually manage although we'll blow a capacitor here and there. When it's 110 degrees outside, there really is only so much one can do.

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Originally posted by @Summer Whitten :

Where can I post on BiggerPockets to get feedback on renting a house with a pool?

 Summer, it's a great question and one we come across regularly in our business. I would also say it depends on who you ask. I'll provide my perspective as both a real estate attorney, broker and owner of a property management company. I own and rent properties in the Central Valley and Sacramento regions here in CA and it gets triple digits hot...so pools can be an absolute perk. We actually pursue properties that have pools as they are a valuable amenity and add a premium to rent. Here are a couple considerations you might consider when renting a home with a pool: 

  • Maintenance - our recommendation is to pack the monthly service into the rent because (similar to lawn service), if a tenant fails to properly maintain it correctly it could lead to over taxing your equipment, getting pool water out of balance and potentially require a costly drain and refill at turnover.
  • Fencing - I would check with your local jurisdiction and maybe also your local apartment association and attorney, in order to determine whether or not you have a legal requirement to fence your pool when renting it out to the public. That said, even if there was not a requirement I would strongly consider you fence your pool, especially if they have small children. But also keep in mind, all it takes is a visit from family or friends with small kids to expose them and you to the risk.
  • Insurance - I also recommend you talking with your insurance agent just to confirm your coverage for the pool but also what type of coverage you can expect should their be an injury or worse. Better to know ahead of time what you have and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Advertising - Of course, a pool looks great in photos so I would be sure to maximize that in the ad and disclose whether or not the 
  • Leasing Provision - setting that expectation is critical in the lease related to who is going to maintain the pool. In the event you decide to allow the tenant to care for the pool, you might also consider adding in a provision that triggers your ability to raise the rent and hire a pool company in the event you observe the pool being neglected. 
  • Vector Control - if they fail to care for the pool and it were to turn, you might also be subjecting yourself to a visit from the County Vector control agency in their attempts to mitigate the mosquitos...which are really bad this year in CA btw.
  • Alarm -  an additional consideration might be (if not legally required) to install the alarms at the doors leading to the pool which sound/beep/alarm when those doors are opened.

I hope this list provides at least some initial considerations related to renting a property with a pool. Although I mentioned many mitigating factors and always tend to plan for the worst...in our 15+ years of management we have not had any significant negative incidents related to renting properties with pools. Best of luck to you Summer.

Franklin Spees, JD, CCRM, TCS, LEED AP

PM Essentials 
www.MyPMessentials.com "Only Pay For Services You Need"
Serving California Landlords with low cost property management

@Franklin S. Looking for free or low cost tenant screening and a step by step guide on how to rent and maintain my new rental home property will be closing this week. It has very few upgrades to be done so we want to rent it our quickly and trying set up the system to do so at a low cost preferrably free. Thanks for your help

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@Roger Verastegui LBJ Law is reasonably priced and could probably help. I've been in transactions with them and it went smoothly. As an agent, you can also access standard lease agreements through NAR/NCREC.gov I believe. Unless you wanted a specific clause/addendum added to the lease agreement.

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This may not be relevant but I am looking for a room mate, would any if these tips apply to the situation. Anyone have a roommate agreement template I can use or do I even need one? This is my duplex that I am currently renting. Any other things I should watch out for? Thank you for reading. 

@Joshua Dorkin

Thank you for posting the article, "Tenant Sreening: The Ultimate Guide". I have read through the guide and everything makes sense to me, except for one thing.

In the article it mentions that a good way to combat a tenant giving you the name and number of a friend or family member, is to call the current landlord first and ask if they have any vacancies. If the person has no idea what you're talking about, you can assume you're being tricked and you can deny that tenant immediately.

Can you explain this logic to me. I know you did not right this article but I'm hoping that you understand what is trying to be said. Does it mean that I should call the current landlord, posing as an interested applicant, without explaining who I am? Because if the person is a friend or family member, they will not know who I am or the reason for calling, and will be thoroughly confused?

Any light that you can shed on this would be greatly appreciated

@Jeff Lehman

For me, my rental application has a statement that says “lease will be terminated or application disqualified if any of the information was falsified on the this application”.

Then, one of the first questions I ask is when calling their previous or current landlord is: “so, how are you related to “John smith”? or whatever the applicants name is.

If they don’t disclose a relationship (had applicant list a friend as a previous landlord who they never even rented from) and you find out later it was a friend or a relative they deceivingly used as a “previous landlord” then I have a disclosure in the application to fall back on for not disclosing or falsifying information and can either terminate the lease or disqualify the applicant.

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Originally posted by @James Vermillion :

Excellent timing, we just placed our first rental property for rent and had over 10 calls and 2 showing in the first 8 hours. Very helpful!

which points made you get so many applicants?


Originally posted by @Keith Ellis :

When it comes to screening prospective tenants for income, do folks rely on a service for this or simply by calling on the phone? I am about to begin screening tenants on my first place and was planning to use TransUnion's SmartMove service for background and credit checks, but was hoping there might be a one stop shop of sorts that would include income verification as well.

the best way of knowing income, is collecting pay stubs, and then calling the buSiness manager  to verify (suggested to do research if the business is real, through GOOGLE)


Mandating **renter's insurance** is a must as well! I've been adding this as a rider to the lease for the last several years until REBNY updated the standard form leases last year after NY's HSTPA of 2019. Require a copy of the policy before releasing keys/doing the walkthrough.

Especially attached housing like we have in NYC - dense vertical housing poses high risk of damage to additional units/the building as a whole, whether fire & water damage, or even personal injury claims that may occur on your property. There are strict requirements here on withholding security deposit as well, so mandating liability of at least $100,000 (if not more depending on the value of the property) makes it much easier for your own insurance company to subrogate, should the need arise. I've heard of PI claims where a pizza delivery person got into an altercation with another tenant in the lobby of the building, and the suit tried to lead back to the tenant who ordered the pizza - but was protected by their renter's insurance policy.

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