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How to Screen Potential Tenants

15 Sep 2017

How to Screen Potential Tenants

When renting a property, choosing the right tenants can make all the difference between sleeping easy at night and lying awake worrying about the state of your house. Screening potential tenants is, therefore, a vital process - but how to go about it to avoid making the terrible mistake of relying on first impressions?

We have put together some tips that will help you choose the right tenants for your rental property, and make sure your investment is in good hands.


Request an application
The first step is having every potential tenant complete an application. You can use a sample rental application, or create one yourself. Make sure you are asking for financial, employment and personal information. An ideal application should cover all of these points:

  • Reason for moving
  • Current employer
  • Financial information (bank accounts, income level...)
  • Previous landlord
  • Personal references
  • Pets
  • Vehicles
  • Proof of identity


Run a background check
Once you've reviewed the form and made sure that nothing is missing, perform a background check to make sure that your potential tenant isn't hiding something from you. Several companies offer this service and will be able to find out about any past evictions and criminal records.


Run a credit check
You will need your potential tenant's authorization to run a credit check, but it is always a good idea to do so. This will show you their credit history, including minor and major issues, as well as their current debt.


Contact the previous landlord
Always make sure you contact the previous landlord, checking if the tenant has a history of late payments, caused any damage to the property, and whether they would rent again to this tenant in the future. The landlord will likely be honest with you, so you can get an idea of what kind of person you would potentially be dealing with. Just be careful not to overstep your boundaries and try and invade someone's privacy - there's no need to turn into a private investigator.


Meet them in person
If you haven't already, make sure you meet with your potential tenants before making any final decisions. Talking to them face to face rather than over the phone or via email could make all the difference, as you will be able to get an idea of their personalities. Ask them some questions regarding their lifestyle which you haven't had a chance to ask before, and make sure you also take into consideration factors such as their attitude and manners, and whether it seems to you like they've made an effort to make a good impression or not.


By following these steps, you should be able to ensure that you choose the right tenants for your rental property so that you can minimise risks and avoid a future hassle.