Whether you are a first-time rental property owner or have been in the industry for several years, one aspect that is ever-lasting is tenant screening. The term tenant screening is used to describe a review process for potential tenants. As the property owner, you want to ensure that you have a process in which tenants are screened before a rental agreement is signed. In states across the US, there are tenant screening laws and rental laws in place that must be reviewed and followed to ensure you are within the law regarding your rental property.
Take Alabama for instance. There are several major cities in the state, such as Birmingham, Huntsville, and Montgomery that are perfect for investors of rental properties. In these regions, there are tenant and landlord regulations that must be followed. For your rental to be a success, you must understand these laws and include Alabama tenant screening in your rental process.
Tenant Screening Laws in Alabama
Like every state in the US, Alabama has tenant screening laws. The details of tenant screening laws will vary from state to state. When looking at Alabama, their screening laws include that landlords do not have limits on how much can be charged for an application fee. Of course, you don’t want to charge too much, or you could shy away from potential tenants that would be good renters. The state does limit the amount of a security deposit to no more than one month’s rent. Tenant screening laws in the state also state that application fees must be paid separate from security deposits and be collected at different times.
When screening a potential tenant, it is recommended that you complete a background check. Be sure to have a signed agreement from the potential tenant that they give you permission to run a background check. You are not allowed to run a background check in Alabama if you have not been given signed permission by the individual.
Creating Your Own Screening Process
As the property owner, you know what you are looking for in a tenant. Aside from following protocols as listed above, create your own list for screening. Typical criteria for landlords will include no smoking in the property, the renter must have a minimum credit score, pet restrictions, no criminal past and not past evictions.
Once you have made a list, you can find applicants that fit your criteria. Be sure to apply the same criteria to every application until you narrow down your choices to the right tenant. Avoid any discrimination against potential tenants based on certain factors such as race, family status, religion or other factors. More information on protected classes can be found at hud.gov.
Wherever you find yourself investing in rental properties, be sure to learn more about the state’s tenant screening process as well as landlord requirements. Operating within the law will ensure that you are successful with your investments. Proper tenant screening will ensure you have a quality renter that will hopefully provide you with a long-term tenant for your property.