What Does the Tenant Screening Process Entail?

May 4, 2023 by Luis Rojo

What Does the Tenant Screening Process Entail

Did you know that between 2000 and 2018, the average number of eviction cases filed by U.S. landlords was 3.6 million? That means 7% of all renting households faced eviction legal action, and eviction filings nationwide climbed 21.5% during the aforementioned time frame.

What does that mean for you as a rental property owner? It means you need to understand that landlord-tenant relationships can sour really quickly. But one way you can reduce the odds of getting stuck with tenants who make your life a living nightmare is by getting help. And you can do this by hiring a property management firm like Green Residential. We have a proven and tested tenant screen process that will find you quality tenants for the long haul.

While there’s no way to guarantee a tenant won’t go rogue, a winning screening process will help. You can increase your odds of finding and holding onto tenants you can rely on to take care of your rental property, pay their rent on time, and be reasonably cooperative.

Do you want to learn what the screening process entails — and why teaming up with an experienced and reputable property manager like Green Residential makes sense?

Keep reading to find out. You’ll see that finding quality tenants isn’t a matter of luck.

Get Would-Be Tenants to Sign Rental Application

The first phase of the process is to get potential tenants to fill out a rental application that lays out the rules and explains what’s expected from tenants in your investment property.

Do you want to steer clear of people who’ve been convicted of felony offenses? We’ll ensure the rental application clearly states that would-be candidates must submit a criminal background check. If you don’t want to rent to smokers or pet owners, we’ll ensure the rental application says so. One of the best ways to find quality tenants is to eliminate, as far as can be done legally under the law, applicants that aren’t a good fit for your investment property.

Information that the rental application will request includes things like the following:

  1. Contact details
  2. Driver’s license number
  3. Social security number
  4. Place of employment
  5. Monthly salary
  6. Other income sources

Our tenant application will also seek permission from applicants for us, on your behalf, to run a background check, credit check, and reference check to contact past landlords and employers.

Conduct Credit and Background Check

We’ll run credit report checks via Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian on all applicants. We may also choose to do so by checking applicants’ FICO scores. If applicants cannot afford to rent your investment property, you’ll want to know that sooner rather than later. You don’t want a situation where your flow of passive income stops due to tenants being unable to pay.

You’ll also want to know if applicants have criminal histories that might make them unsuitable tenants. Criminal background checks also include looking at sex offender registries. Our goal is to find quality tenants who won’t cause you any issues, so these checks are essential.

Check Employment and Salary Info

The tenant screening process also involves checking job and salary information. If you’re charging $1,000 monthly for a unit in your rental property, you’ll want to ensure that would-be tenants make at least $3,000 monthly. That’s in line with the three-times rule stipulating that someone should make a monthly income of at least three times their monthly rent. That’s not an inflexible rule, but it’s a rule of thumb that can weed out people who can’t afford to rent your unit.

Check With Previous Landlords

Another essential part of the screening process is contacting applicants’ previous landlords. It’s important to learn about residence history, and you’ll want to know if there were any evictions or questionable conduct. When calling landlords, we’ll ask questions such as the following:

  1. How much was the rent?
  2. Did you have any problems with late payments or lack of payments?
  3. Did the tenant cause problems for you or for other tenants?
  4. Did the tenant treat the property with respect?
  5. If you could rewind time, would you still rent your unit to the tenant?

It’s best to speak with more than one landlord per applicant to get a more balanced assessment of the applicant. After all, it would be unfair to assume that all landlords are fair and honest.

Interview Would-Be Tenants

After conducting the previous steps and determining which applicants warrant in-person interviews, we’ll book interviews for the most suitable applications. We’ll ask the right questions to get more relevant information that helps us determine which applicants are the best fit. We’ll also ensure that everything we do lines up with federal fair housing rules — so you won’t have to worry about legal action from applicants who might be upset after being denied. Such a lawsuit is the last thing you want to face as a rental property owner. It can be emotionally and financially draining. But we understand all applicable laws and our processes won’t violate any laws.

Make Decisions

Once the applicant interviews are done, we’ll comb over the information gathered from documents and interviews. Some applicants will be accepted, and others will be rejected after the screening stage. We have specific criteria to help find you the best tenants possible. You can count on us to make the right decisions to maximize long-term success. You also have the right to make the final decisions as to which applications are the best fit for your rental property.

As you can see, the screening process is just that…a process. It’s designed to increase your chances of finding good tenants who’ll pay rent on time and stick around for a long time. Tenant screening is one of the services you’ll get when you work with a property manager like Green Residential. If you’re interested in maximizing your success as a property owner and reducing headaches, get in touch and allow us to explain how we help you achieve your goals.

We’re the leading provider of property management services in Houston, Austin, and the surrounding region. And tenant screening is one of the services available for all our property management and leasing clients. For the help you need, get in touch. We’re here for you.

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