As property managers, for commercial or residential buildings, one of the most important parts of your job is ensuring you have a thorough tenant screening and application process. The better your process, the less turnover you will see and the more respect the property will be treated with. For owners, this is absolutely critical in the success of your investment. As always, the most ideal scenario is to have tenants renew their leases or have someone refer a friend through an established referral program. Follow these steps to ensure a successful tenant screening:
Step 1: Set your standards. Typically, you want to establish an income standard. More often, you will see property management companies with an income of two or three times the total rent. This way, they are more likely to make rent payments on time. Additionally, make sure they have good references, personal and from prior landlords. Finally, you will need to make sure they have no prior evictions and a clean background.
Step 2: Pre-Screen. Begin with communicating these standards you have for the property effectively. You want to ensure these people are not just tire kickers and are genuinely interested in renting the property. You can do this by phone and also through in-person meetings. Make sure to evaluate their attitude, punctuality, appearance, and even their car. Use these indicators and your gut intuition when screening.
Step 3: Prepare an application. There are many examples and templates of applications online. You will want to make sure that all of the details you have discussed as standards are on there, as well as personal information, social security number, current and past landlord information, employer and job details, eviction records, and, finally, a release of information signature. Develop the application to be in-depth, but simple enough that it doesn’t deter anyone. Typically, there is an application and credit check fee associated.
Step 4: Evaluate the applicants. Follow the steps thoroughly and find candidates that best meet your standards. It is imperative you find someone who will respect the property and possibly seek long-term rent from the location. Be quick, but thorough so you don’t miss out on opportune applicants. They will not wait for a long time.
If you follow these steps, you will be set up to have a successful tenant screening process. At MGR, we are proud to have been working with owners to find great tenants for almost four decades.