A positive rental experience starts with good tenants. If you have a tenant who pays rent on time, takes good care of your property, treats the neighbors and the home with respect, and follows the terms of your lease agreement, it’s easy to enjoy your life as a real estate investor. However, with a bad tenant in place, you’ll be chasing down late rent every month, responding to complaints and disputes, and repairing damage that was left behind after the tenant left.
The key to finding a good tenant is a thorough and consistent screening process. Today, we’re sharing some of our best tips and pieces of advice on finding that great tenant.
National Criminal and Eviction Checks
Start with checking for a history of evictions or criminal behavior. These would be two good reasons not to accept a tenant into your rental property. People move a lot more than they used to, which is why it’s important to check national databases. You don’t want to rent to a tenant who has recently been evicted or convicted of a felony that involves violence or drugs. When things pop up from 10 or 20 years ago, talk to the tenant about them and see if there’s a record of that tenant turning things around and performing better and more reliably.
Verify Income and Employment
A good tenant will be able to afford the rent every month. Check your prospective tenant’s income, and make sure they earn at least three times the monthly rent. Call employers to make sure they work where they say they work. If an applicant is self-employed or retired, ask for bank statements or tax records so you get an idea of how much income is available to that tenant every month.
Take a Look at Credit
Credit can be funny because a person with a decent credit score could have declared bankruptcy a year ago. Don’t look at the score only; check through the credit report and see how your applicant handles financial responsibilities. If you see a lot of overdue utility bills or outstanding debts owed to former landlords, Osceola County property management companies or apartment communities, you might want to think twice before approving an application. Lots of credit reports take a hit from medical bills and student loans. Be willing to measure the type of debt an applicant has against his or her income and record of repayment.
Check Landlord References and Rental History
One of the most important things you can do is to talk to former and current landlords to get an idea about what it’s like to rent to an applicant. Most property owners don’t do this, but it’s extremely valuable. You can ask previous landlords if rent was paid on time, if any damages were left behind, if pets were well-behaved, and whether maintenance issues were reported in a timely manner. Find out if that landlord would rent to the tenant again.
These are a few of the things you absolutely must do when you’re screening tenants in Osceola County. Make sure you follow all fair housing laws, and keep a documented set of rental criteria so tenants know what you require before they apply.
If you have any questions about tenant screening or leasing, please contact us at Park Avenue Property Management.