When you’re thinking about renting your property to someone, it can be difficult to know whether or not they’re the right fit for you and your property. As an owner or property manager, you have many potential candidates to choose from, so choosing the right tenant is paramount to ensure that your investment in the property remains safe and secure. While it’s important to consider all aspects of the applicant’s background when screening tenants, there are some common mistakes that are easy to avoid.
1) Not qualifying your prospects
Tenant screening should be a multi-step process. The first step is to qualify your prospects—not all applicants are right for your rental property, so make sure you’re only speaking with those who have an interest in what you have to offer. Also, it’s not just important to evaluate tenants financially; landlords must consider factors like rental history and credit score when choosing qualified renters. Those without a strong track record can take time away from other perspective tenants who might be better suited for your property.
2) Waiting until you need it
Putting off background screening until you need to fill a vacancy is probably one of the biggest mistakes property managers make. There are plenty of reasons why a potential tenant could fall through: they lose their job, they can’t afford your rent, or they aren’t approved for a mortgage, etc. Starting to background screen applicants before you even have an opening will help you have a better chance at filling a vacancy quickly when it arises.
3) Not setting clear procedures for reporting results
If you plan to conduct background checks on tenants, be sure everyone who is responsible for submitting reports knows exactly what they need to look for. Without clear procedures, there’s a risk of incomplete reports—or multiple conflicting results. One trick to avoid these issues: Be specific about how you expect each report to be formatted and include examples of tenant names so that submitters know exactly which people to check.
4) Not considering how valuable your reports can be
Your background screening reports contain a treasure trove of information that could help you avoid serious problems down the road, and it’s essential that you keep them handy. In addition to keeping your company safe from legal liability, reports can help you make smarter decisions about who to rent to. Take every opportunity you can to implement these reports into your decision-making process—it will save time and heartache in the long run.
5) Not learning from past mistakes
We’ve all made them, no matter how experienced we are in our line of work. These days, it can be easy to get caught up in a particular way of doing things, even if your peers and competitors are doing it differently. If you fall into that category and you’re finding yourself either turning away good tenants or accidentally accepting bad ones, look at your current process with a fresh pair of eyes—the most obvious flaws may be easier to spot than you think.
6) Not using an online option
As a landlord, you want to make sure you find out everything you can about your tenant, and an online background check is by far your best option. An internet-based service gives you access to millions of records in a matter of minutes and helps ensure that none of your important information falls through any cracks. It also lets you get back on track should anything unexpected arise with your screening process. Knowing what to look for when screening tenants online can help keep both parties informed and protected.
7) Not having a basic knowledge of tenant laws, rules and regulations.
Landlords and property managers are legally bound to follow tenant laws in Arkansas, which vary from city to city. In Little Rock, for example, landlords can’t screen applicants based on credit scores (unfortunately) but can use a number of other screening tools. So when it comes to screening tenants in Arkansas, know your local laws!
8) Relying on expensive credit bureau reports
Credit bureaus aren’t always able to provide clear data on a prospective tenant. If you’re looking for proof of a tenant’s financial security, you need sources with access to reliable, up-to-date information. It’s best to ask for pay stubs and bank statements from applicants – these financial documents can help you identify immediate red flags like large unpaid balances or frequent overdrafts. They may also give you clues as to how dependable your potential tenants are.
9) Skipping through the details
You’re not a machine—you’re a human being who can only process so much information at once. When reviewing a potential tenant’s application, you may be tempted to speed through it in order to fit more applications into your day. Don’t do it. Even a few simple errors or omissions can lead to complications down the road and make you look like a bad landlord. Instead, take your time and ask yourself: Is there enough documentation? Do I have proof of each statement in their application? Are all their answers clear, concise, and easily verified?
Give us a call!
ACUTRAQ has over 70 years in combined experience partnering with diverse organizations to safeguard their investments. Background screening is not just another service to us – we help businesses work smarter and grow faster. Earning the trust of over 12,400 satisfied customers, we help employers, property managers, property owners, and many others get the crucial information they need to make the right decision. Give us a call 888.361.7036, visit us on social media, or shoot us an email. We provide fast, accurate reports to you and your organization – because we care.