Most property owners have experienced at least one issue with a problematic tenant. Whether it was a wild party that required the police to be summoned in order to quiet things down or it involved chasing the tenant for overdue rent, such issues can be a hassle. Even more devastating is walking into a property recently vacated by a tenant only to discover that the unit is in disarray and expensive renovations are required. Such situations present the potential for lost income as a result of necessary repairs and the time required to complete those repairs. While these are certainly all nightmare scenarios, each could be minimized by conducting a thorough tenant check prior to renting a unit to a prospective tenant. By taking advantage of tenant screening services and checking the background of an applicant, the risk of such scenarios becomes much lower. Not only does a bad tenant cost you money, but their actions can also result in potential liabilities. There are three ways in which you can conduct a tenant check.
1. Telephone Interview
The first contact you will often have with a tenant is over the telephone. Even if you are using an online rental application, the first time you actually speak to the applicant will often be over the phone. This is an excellent opportunity to ask questions to initiate the qualification process. Along with gathering the applicant's name and contact number, you should also ask if the applicant has landlord references. Other questions to ask include:
- Reason for moving
- Number of people who will occupy the unit
- Type and number of pets, if applicable
In addition to asking the questions above, you should inform the applicant of the rent amount, security deposit, and any other fees required upfront. This will often help to eliminate the need to conduct further screening.
2. Personal Interview
If you and the applicant are satisfied after the telephone interview, you may choose to schedule a time for the applicant to tour the property. This visit also affords you the perfect opportunity to continue the qualification process. There is much information that can be gleaned from a personal interview.
3. Formal Tenant Screening
Keep in mind that all of the information obtained through the application, telephone interview, and personal interview should be confirmed with a tenant check. Tenant screening services, such as VerticalRent, can help you in performing a credit check as well as a criminal background check. You will need to obtain a signed Release of Information statement to order these checks. These checks are vital, as they can reveal a wealth of information that the applicant may not volunteer on his or her own. For instance, a credit check will tell you whether the applicant pays his or her bills on time. Additionally, a credit check will reveal debt load, collections, bankruptcies, evictions, and judgments. Criminal history data will reveal any adjudications and charges as well as their outcome. You can also use a criminal background check to verify the applicant's identify along with any aliases.