Ultimate Guide to Tenant Screening & Renting Your House

89 Replies

The guide is very helpful. We build our rental website based on the comments from the guide and we are getting real success. Just have a look at Sandora. It is a one stop solution for both tenants and landlord. We have tried to make renting as easy as getting a ride share.

Great stuff. One of the biggest things that we do is to verify the references for rental history are actually the owner of the house or the manager of the property. 

Also, understand the city/county/state you're investing in. Recently Minneapolis passed a law that you cannot deny someone that has criminal history over 3 years old and felonies over 7 years. All kinds of other stuff are in there as well. 

@Joshua Dorkin and @Brandon Turner

You both have greatly improved what it's like to be a landlord through all the information you provide and all the great podcasts for Buy and Hold Investors.  My personal favorite regarding this topic was Marica Marynard's "landlording with Integrity".  Most of what I currently do is from that podcast but I want to add a couple of gold nuggets to this forum that I've gained from others.

1.  So you've completed the phone screen and you like the tenant and they want to see your apartment on Saturday at 10 am, for example.  This is exactly what I say "How far do you currently live from the apartment?.....15 minutes, Great! then at 9:45, you will text me that you are coming and I'll meet you there.  If you don't text me I'll assume your schedule has changed and I won't be there, is that ok?"

By doing this you prevent no shows which I haven't had since instituting this process but more importantly, you ask your tenants to do something and when they do it, they are more likely to also pay the rent each month.  Those who don't text I'll never rent too as this is now part of my interview/tenant screening process.

2.  A toy soldier clause in my lease.  When the lease is signed and you have the deposit in hand, the last thing you do is an apartment condition walk-thru.  While in the bathroom I'll flush the toilet and have the next tenant initial next to my "toy soldier" clause in my lease which stipulates that the tenant acknowledges the toilet is fully functioning and if they put something down it, which plugs it up (ie. feminine products, kids toys or whatever) that is on them, but if the toilet is broken, please call me and I'll hire a plumber to fix.  However, if the plumber finds it's caused by the tenant, then they will pay.  While you are at it, point at a light bulb and ask your tenant who replaces them when they burn out?  You will get two answers and both will save you time.  Answer 1 is the tenant will say they will do it, Answer 2 is they'll ask you to provide light bulbs which you will happily do."  Both answers will save you time so do this too. 

Since implementing this process into my tenant screening/education I haven't had one late night "plugged up toilet" or "my light bulb is out" call in over 6 years.

Words that I currently live by as a landlord "at a minimum, 80% if not more of anything a landlord will ever complain about is their fault so if they handle their real estate like a business, not a hobby then it can be an amazing way to build wealth for you and your family".

I hope this helps and God bless!

Garth

The guide is great and helpful! Regarding to ask the employment reference about how much the applicant earned, thought this was sensitive information that the person might not know or not appropriate to share. How did you usually ask the questions?


This is a great timely topic.  Just from personal experience evictions and Landlord Tenant law is not a DYI thing, unless you are really well versed in your local laws and have the time dedicated to learn the nuances.  Even when you think you know, you do not know what you do not know.  If anything confer with a lawyer just to make 100% sure you are on the right track.  Knowing your tenants and having a process is key.  Thanks for making the guide available. 

I know I am late to the party... But this is incredible information. I will use this as soon as it comes time to screen tenants!

So something I've recently added to my tenant screening/information collection is getting the make, model, plate, and VIN of my tenant's automobile.  Did you know you can lien a car title?  Not something I prefer to do but when you are left with a mess that exceeds the deposit, sometimes desperate times cause for desperate measures.  Anyhoo, hope this helps the group, Cheers, Garth

I have a question on this concerning the 3X income vs rent. What happens if the income is low but it is a high net worth individual? Like someone recently divorced or someone recently retired or working part time? But they have a lot of money in their checking / savings / retirement account? So let's say someone is working part time but have $100K + in their checking and savings account? This person has an income only 1.2-1.5X vs rent though but willing to draw money from savings / checking, etc. Would you take a chance on this type of individual? 

Is it illegal to ask for their last 12 months of bank statements (how much they have in their checking, savings, and retirement accounts)? Because when you refinance or apply for a loan, the banks will also require of this from you. This would determine if they are a high-net worth individual and can pay the rent without satisfying the income requirements. Let me know your thoughts on this matter.