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How to Screen Tenants in 5 Easy Steps: Landlords Guide to Avoiding the Worst Tenant

Updated: Jan 25

Everyone knows the saying “renting is for suckers.” Well, it may not be true anymore. With rising housing prices and a competitive job market, more people are finding themselves in rental situations longer than they would have ever imagined.

However, with this rise in rental properties comes an increase in the number of bad tenants. Landlords are faced with the tough task of screening tenants to avoid these renters before they can move in. It seems like an impossible feat to screen applicants without questionnaires or background checks, but don’t worry! This article will provide you with five easy steps to ensure you get your next great tenant!

Create a Compliant Screening Process

One of the most important steps to screening tenants is creating a compliant screening process. By meeting your state and local requirements, you will be able to screen your applicants without worrying about breaking any laws. The first step is to determine what information you need and what you can legally ask for from potential tenants.

For example, on the application you must notify tenants that there will be a background check. In addition, if you're doing a background check, you must use a company like who provide compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the EEOC.

Why You Should Never Use an Instant People Search Site For Tenant Screening

There are many "instant people search" websites that seem legit, but usually if you scroll to the footer of the page, their sites provide a hard-to-see disclaimer that states: "not for employment or housing".

A popular example is the company BeenVerified . These companies utilize a database and do not go directly to the source of information, which breaches federal housing laws. If you end up making a negative housing decision based off these type of reports, you can be sued for thousands and thousands of dollars.

In addition, when an applicant has negative information on their consumer report which will impact a housing decision, you must also follow specific procedures called Adverse Action. An accredited FCRA tenant background check company will easily take care of this process for you if you let them know you're denying your applicant.

Curious About Adverse Action for Landlords? View compliant Adverse Action Templates.

Do a Criminal Background Check

One of the first things you should do when screening your applicants is to do a criminal background check. This precaution will help you weed out any tenants that have committed crimes in the past or might be prone to doing so in the future. Whether you’re looking for a tenant for your home, an office space, or commercial property, it’s always best to know who you’re dealing with.

Criminal background checks are easy to do without questionnaires or interviews by simply running a report on your applicants. At Global Background Screening, all we need from the Landlord is a Name and Email address. We handle the rest for you!

Check Eviction History

When it comes to screening potential tenants, one of the most important steps is verifying their rental history. Whether they’ve had an eviction or not, it’s important to know what type of tenant they are. When conducting your background checks, be sure to check records for evictions, late payments, and lawsuits. These three warning signs can help identify a bad tenant before they move in.

The eviction process might seem like nothing more than a simple court procedure that doesn’t affect you as the landlord, but in reality it can spell disaster for your property.

Evictions come with many hassles including unpaid rent, cleaning costs, and damage to the property. If you have an eviction on your record as a tenant, you will likely have a difficult time finding someone willing to rent from you again. Simply select Evictions at checkout to obtain this information from a prospective tenant or even business.

Do Evictions show up on Credit Reports?

No, evictions are a civil case and typically do not show up on credit reports.

Check for Bankruptcies

It may seem like an overly cautious step to take, but if they’ve had bankruptcies in the past then it could be possible that they will do it again. This information can be easily obtained at checkout on our Background Check on Tenant package.

Check Credit History

Before you rent to any applicant, you should check their credit history. This is one of the easiest ways to weed out bad tenants. If an applicant has good credit history, it shows that they are responsible with their finances and will likely be a good tenant. The great thing about Tenant Credit Reports is that the Tenant's credit does not get hit and you can view their FICO score. Simply select the credit report service option as well at checkout.

Negotiate the Lease Terms

The first step to screening tenants is to negotiate the lease terms. One of the best ways for landlords to identify potentially bad tenants is by looking at how they negotiate the lease. If a potential tenant tries to change the amount of the deposit, wants an extended lease term, or has other unreasonable requests, it may be best to look elsewhere. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what is being negotiated before signing any agreements.

If you have other requirements for your rental property, like no pets or smoking, make sure to include this information on your application. It may be helpful to set up a questionnaire for potential applicants to fill out so you can avoid wasting time screening people who won't meet your needs.

If you've read this far, congrats! Enjoy a 10% off your Tenant Screening for life with code: TenantCheck154



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