Don't Make these Mistakes When Screening Tenants
Nobody wants to be the bad guy. But a smart landlord will closely follow these procedures when deciding to approve or deny tenants that they screen to live in their property.
Screen All Tenants the Same
Keep your criteria consistent with all tenants. When making amendments to your criteria based on changing fair housing laws, you should keep the date of when those changes were made and mark the date that you screen each tenant so that you can verify consistent and fair treatment of every screened applicant.
Charge an Application Fee
Whether big or small, you’re running a business and you need to be covering your expenses. If you have five applicants and you pay for all of the screening applications yourself, you’re wasting the money on four of those applicants. Some landlords choose not to screen tenants because of the costs involved. This is a mistake as well. A one-time $25 application fee should be minimal to a tenant who’s looking to pay rent for up to a year. However that fee adds up pretty quick for the landlord because there will be many applicants.
Keep Yourself Educated
The local industry laws change all of the time. If you don’t stay up to date, you could be opening yourself to unnecessary risks. Attending Landlord workshops can be of significant help even if you’ve attended them before. Chances are, you’ll learn something new.
Have your Screening Criteria Memorized
If you don’t know this by heart, you might be tempted to be lenient with a tenant who asks you a question you don’t know the answer to right off the bat. Going back on your initial answer will raise eyebrows and could cause you to lose the tenant’s interest in the property or open you up to the risk of being taken advantage of by the tenant.
Following careful procedures in your tenant screening process protects you from both financial and legal risks. You have to remind yourself no matter how innocent or nice a tenant may seem, if they don’t fall within the criteria that you set, they can be a significant risk to your company.