For individuals managing their own property or small property managers, finding good tenants can often be the most difficult part of renting out a property. Professional Boston property management companies have an efficient tenant screening process to ensure that the tenants they choose for their properties are reliable and financially responsible.
Make sure each potential tenant fills out a rental application to start off the tenant screening process. A rental application is easily available. You can download one from a Boston real estate agent or property management company, or make one yourself. Here is a sample rental application to screen tenants (PDF File).
The rental application should include questions about all important matters related to your prospective tenants. For example:
- Financial situation – Ask about their current job status, does their income cover the rent and living expenses, length of present employment, how many jobs they have changed in the past few years etc
- Credit History – Ask questions that will help to give you a clear picture of the tenant’s ability to pay their rent on time without problems.
- Past landlords – Make sure you get the names and contact information for the tenant’s past landlords. Previous landlords can usually give you a lot of information about whether a tenant is good or could be a problem.
- Household – Find out how many people will be living in your property, how many pets they have and any other information about their lifestyle that might hint at possible problems or issues.
There are a number of background checks that you should run during the tenant screening process.
- Credit check – You can ask a tenant to provide you with a credit report or get one yourself. It will help you understand whether the tenant is financially responsible or not by looking at their payments, their credit history and mortgage payments, if any.
- Background check – This can be requested by using the tenant’s social security number and will help you delve into a tenant’s past. Look for any mentions of issues that could signal problems in future. For example, evictions, criminal record or legal problems.
- Previous landlords – Call them and ask them about their experience with your prospective tenants. Did they pay rent on time? Were they disruptive? What condition did they leave their property in? How much repair was required?
- Employment Check – Contact the tenant’s current employer to confirm the information the tenant provided you
You can schedule the interview with a prospective tenant and conduct it through a phone call or in person during the showing of your property. Remember that you cannot discriminate against a tenant on the basis of such things as race, color or religion. However, meeting them and talking to them could provide you with some hints about their future behavior and sense of responsibility.