The best tenants will pay rent on time, take care of your property and follow the requirements spelled out in the rental agreement. And there are many good tenants out there. It is usually a small minority of renters who create the most challenges for landlords. Proper tenant screening will make all the difference in the type of tenant you place.
Tenant screening requires a thorough background check. You will want to review a credit report, perform a criminal background check, research public records and verify the applicant’s rental history and income. You need to have a set of standards in place for every single applicant before you even begin to advertise your property. It’s important to apply those standards consistently to every applicant. For example, there are many things that could show up on a criminal report that would disqualify someone. But if there’s an arrest for reckless driving, would you be willing to live with that? You will want to define the things that are cause for the denial of your rental home.
Establish how much income is necessary. You want to make sure the applicant can pay the rent, and you’ll have to spell out what kind of proof is acceptable in demonstrating income. Don’t simply take an applicant’s word for it; ask for pay stubs. You’ll also need to figure out how to handle someone who is self-employed and unable to provide paystubs, or someone who is retired and living off savings or a pension. In Oregon, you cannot discriminate based on legal sources of income. You want all applicants to know what is required in order to rent your property.
Professional property managers have a specific process in place to handle tenant screening. You’ll need to develop your own screening criteria and then set the bar wherever you want it when it comes to qualifying tenants. There are also professional tenant screening companies you can use to help you find someone who fits your requirements. Whatever you do, make sure you use a thorough and detailed screening process so you don’t end up with the wrong tenants.
It has been our experience that past behavior is a great indicator of future behavior. Unless something catastrophic happens, like a divorce or a job loss, you can usually count on your tenants acting exactly as they have in prior rental situations. If you need help with tenant screening, or you have questions about this blog, please contact us at Residential Property Management in Portland.