Tenant Screening 101: Know Your Neighbors First


Tenant screening is one of those stressful tasks that every property owner must do. It's imperative to have a screening process in place to prevent renting to problem tenants who may: miss payments, cause mischief, or even destroy property.

There's a fine line between screening and discrimination, however. California laws say that you cannot refuse a rental property to a person because of elements such as race, disability, religious preference, gender, or parental status. Doing so may cause you to have to attend a court appearance in your defense. The following are some tips for conducting a fair and uniform screening process to protect yourself and your investment:

Examine Common Screening Areas

The most common areas of background that prospective landlords check are the credit report, criminal history record, and past landlord and tenant experiences. You may also want to take employment verification a bit further, but you must stay within the confines of the law. Interviewing your applicants in person can help you to make your final decisions. Meeting in person with a prospect and interviewing them is crucial because they deserve the opportunity to explain any negative information that you extract from the reports.

Think About What You Want

You have to think about your own desires before you invite people to live on your property. Ask yourself how much of a security deposit would make you feel comfortable, and how much income you would like the person to earn each month. Know what you will accept and where you will allow flexibility. Put that all on the table to the prospective customer to avoid confusion.

Set Your Underwriting Criteria

It's wise to have guidelines, but you should also give yourself the right to override those guidelines if you feel that your judgment of a prospective tenant may be hasty or incorrect. Inform applicants of your criteria before they pay application fees if you have them. That way, the prospects can make an informed decision about moving forward... or not.

Use Advanced Screening Processes

Our company uses artificial intelligence to accelerate the screening process so that you can get the answers that you need faster. We can have your prospects conduct an online application that eliminates all need for physical paperwork. We can also handle some of the tedious parts of the application process using our smart technologies. Contact us for additional details about what we have to offer you.

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