July 03, 2018
How to Vet Potential Tenants
In the property management business, WHO you rent to is one of the most important decisions you have to make. Separating the good renters from the not so good renters is key to keeping your business happy and healthy. Having the wrong people ends up costing a lot of money – and not just in lost rent, but often in property repairs, legal costs and time, time, time. So, read on if you want to know how to vet potential tenants…
Two words: Due diligence.
Sometimes, though, that’s easier said than done in the property management business. Why? It’s often a tightrope walk between a quick turnaround on the vacant unit and finding the best tenant who pays on time, maintains the property and doesn’t cause any disturbances.
Vetting Potential Tenants: A How-To Guide
1. Truth in Advertising
The best way to attract quality tenants is to start with your advertising. Use a best practices approach that includes showcasing photos of the available unit, photos of the outside of the building and photos of key features, like a pool or on-site parking.
It’s often a good idea to make sure these items are included in your ad:
- Unit description, including square footage and specifics about the unit (number of bedrooms, bathrooms, floors, etc.).
- Property description with a list of all amenities and rental perks.
- Property location highlighting any public transportation or nearby attractions.
- Rent per month, and whether or not anything is included in that price, for example utilities or Wi-Fi.
- Any rules, like no smoking or pets.
- Length of the lease.
- Any rent deposit that may be required.
- Contact information to arrange a showing.
Don’t be afraid to state “References and credit check required.” It can help eliminate any bad apples from the very start.
2. Applications for Everyone
Never, ever skip the application process. Whether your prospect has found the apartment online and is ready to complete an application right away, or whether they are standing in front of you after touring the unit, ensure that an online automated application is completed. This does a few things: Firstly, it ensures that all information required for a credit check is captured in one spot. There will be no incomplete data. Secondly, property professionals can save time and money by automating the application and screening process. Eliminating manual tasks, like phone calls and faxes helps avoid delays and bottlenecks. It also ensures that good prospects don’t turn to other properties because the process is taking too long.
3. Ask the Right Questions
During the application process, make sure you know the laws, and what you are allowed to ask on application form. To help with your tenant screening process be sure to ask about/for:
- Income, pay stub, employer’s name
- Who will be living in the unit
- If there are pets
- If they smoke
- References with contact information
- Permission for a credit check
- Information needed to run the credit check (usually date of birth, full name and address)
Landlords are not allowed to refuse an apartment or otherwise treated unfairly because of:
- Race, colour or ethnic background and ancestory
- Religious beliefs or practices
- citizenship, including refugee status
- sex (including pregnancy and gender identity) or sexual orientation
- family status or marital status, including people with a same-sex partner
- receipt of public assistance.
So avoid any questions that may contravene the law. Do not ask if the couple plans to have children or if the person is single, married or divorced.
4. Do the Due Diligence
If the prospective renter has granted permission, automatically run a credit check from a credit bureau and examine their rental history. Always ask for a pay stub to verify the employer and income, and it can be a good idea to contact the HR department to ensure the person is still an employee.
Don’t forget to contact the current landlord for information on their payment history, reliability and character. This will help you form a more complete picture of your prospective tenant.
Some provinces have a registry or advocacy group that enables landlords to access information about a tenant’s rental history, including evictions. If available, check court records for criminal convictions and any other publicly available information.
If you use Property Vista’s Tenant Screening software, the application and screening are seamless. Our system uses a state-of-the-art algorithm to analyze more than 30 points of interest, such as credit score and debt, income and required rent. You’ll eliminate applications that do not meet your approval without having to lift a finger.
How We Help Get You the Best Tenants
Property Vista offers both an online application as well as tenant screening software. Not only do online rental applications save you from antiquated manual data entry and the risk of human error, the convenient option will attract a greater pool of applicants and offer you a greater number of high-quality potential tenants. And, for screening, with our fine-tuned algorithm, you’ll be getting quality residents, but filling your vacancies faster than ever — it’s a win-win. See our pricing and schedule a demo.