Asheville Real Estate: 5 Tips To Screen Tenants

Whiteboard Wednesday #8 — 5 Tips To Screen Tenants

“There’s no such thing as a bad tenant, there’s just a lazy landlord.”  It’s an adage for landlords to live by, if not to take without a grain of salt at times.  Essentially, the statement means this: if a landlord does a thorough job of screening his or her tenants up front, he or she will never have a bad tenant.  A landlord who doesn’t put in the time and effort to thoroughly screen, however, is a lazy landlord who may wind up with a less-than-perfect tenant.

Of course, due diligence can be easier said than done.  By following a few tips for vetting potential tenants, however, landlords can set themselves – and their tenants – up for success:

  1. Ensure that a tenant’s monthly income is at least three times the rent.   Maintaining a healthy ratio of housing costs to income will help to prevent tenants from getting behind on rent.
  2. Always run criminal and credit checks.  Credit need not be a hard and fast deciding factor; it can be affected by things outside of the tenant’s control – medical bills, for example – or that don’t reflect negatively upon them – student loans.  Make a good judgment call rather than setting hard and fast rules. Criminal background checks can also be case-by-case – there are certain things that may be disqualifying, but it can also be important to consider circumstances, age of conviction, and so on.
  3. Verify proof of employment.  Ask potential tenants for paystubs, letters of recommendation from their employers, and so on – don’t just take their word for it, get written proof of steady employment and add it to your file.
  4. Talk to previous landlords.  Ask a potential tenant for contact information for their former landlords, and have a conversation with them – ask why the tenant left, if they were respectful of the property, whether the security deposit was returned, and so forth.
  5. Take a look at their car.  You can often judge how good a tenant will be by their car.  A clean, well-maintained car is often indicative of a tenant who will take good care of their living space as well.

With these tips in mind, a diligent landlord can ensure that they’ll never wind up with a bad tenant!

 

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