When you’re looking for a tenant, there are no shortcuts—there’s too much at stake. A troublemaker can consume your time, raise your blood pressure, and put your finances at risk. But if you can find the right renter, you won’t have to do this again anytime soon. Here’s what to remember when you’re screening potential tenants so that no warning signs slip through the cracks.
From the beginning, know what’s non-negotiable for you. What are your policies about pets, smoking, and subletting? Incorporate them all into the lease, along with the consequences for any violations. What’s the minimum income tenants need in order to cover the rent? How many occupants are you prepared for? What sets off your alarm bells? Take those parameters, and break them down in a checklist. You can compromise but not unless or until you have to. Be upfront with candidates about your requirements, and make sure they agree to meet them.
Have a Good Talk
You can learn a lot from a phone interview just from listening to candidates: Are they respectful, or do they interrupt a lot? Are they vague with details about their past? Do they seem stable in their career? Do they mention books a lot—or a trail of angry exes? Is their best friend a drummer who needs a babysitter for his boa constrictor when he’s on the road? Don’t be shy about asking specific questions, and make sure you get straightforward answers. You might see some red flags that can save you a lot of frustration. Be careful with your phrasing, though, so you don’t enter territory that would violate Fair Housing laws.
Don’t just skim the documentation for credit checks, eviction and background reports, and income verification. Absorb what it all really says about candidates and how it compares to the way they present themselves. Call prior landlords to find out if they have a history with late rent. Call the candidate’s employer; if the company has never heard of them before, that’s a good thing to know. In short, delve deep and hope you don’t get any surprises.
Thorough screening is crucial. You’re trusting this tenant with your property, your investment, and your quality of life. It’s important enough to consult a property management company with a good reputation. At R. Russell Properties, we know what to remember when you’re screening potential tenants because we’ve been doing it for decades. We can guide you through the process and even do the work for you. Whether you’re looking for Longwood property management or services elsewhere in the Orlando area, R. Russell Properties can make life easier for a landlord. Contact us for more information about how we can help.