I realize that this is a very basic tenet, but when times are rough, we don’t always follow it. The reason we screen tenants is to ensure that we, as landlords, will be paid, and that our property will not be damaged or destroyed.
What happens when the market is slow and you can’t find a tenant?
I’ve gone through periods where some of my units have gone months without being occupied. There were some applications, but I turned them down after screening them. Why? These tenants would have resulted in more work from me and my lawyer.
You don’t have to evict a tenant you don’t have!
It is always tempting during slow periods to drop your tenant standards, but that is what can get you in trouble. Avoid the temptation and continue to market your rentals. You’re better off taking a small loss then a huge one later.
The three most important things to look at when screening tenants are:
- Credit Report – Does the applicant have many of their accounts overdue? Do they pay their bills on time? This is a good indication of whether or not they will pay rent on time as well.
- Rental History – Contact previous landlords. Why did the tenant move? Did they damage the property? Did they pay rent on time? Were they “problem” tenants?
- Employment history – Does the applicant have a job? Can they hold a job down?
If you focus on these three points and do your homework, you will not have to worry about evictions or problem tenants. They will never get the chance to rent from you in the first place.
Note: This is not a perfect system, but neither is life!