Establishing Rental Screening Criteria

This is a comprehensive guide on the way to efficiently and effectively screen tenant applicants.

Every professional property manager and landlord will have rental screening criteria set in place to screen future tenants before signing onto a lease. These checks may include aspects such as prior rental history, work references, rent to income ratio, credit profile, eviction/unlawful detainer history and proof they can meet the rental requirements.

This criterion enables the manager to ensure that the potential tenant is a reliable and trustworthy individual that can make the rental requirements. There is a specific legal and ethical framework that is required when you are developing your custom screening requirements. It is also highly recommended that you have documented screening policies that can be assessed by a solicitor to make sure they are ethical and legal.

Why Do I Need a Screening Criteria?

It’s necessary to devise objective and strict screening checks to ensure that your future tenant will pay their rent and look after your premises. Although some landlords prefer to screen an applicant based on their personable attitude or polite personality, this can sometimes lead to detrimental consequences. Without checking in the applicant’s employment and tenant history, they may prove to be disruptive and unreliable tenants who end up costing you money and time.

This isn’t to say there are exceptions to the rule. Some people who may appear lower on the income spectrum may have the option to forward a larger deposit to negate the increased risk of signing them onto a lease. Someone with no tenant history could provide you with glowing employment and character references that attest to their dependable and trustworthy nature. If you do make an exception based on an alternative contributing factor make sure it is well documented.

Overall,  having rental screening criteria ensures a consistent, objective, and fair practice to qualify applicants for a rental property.

First Come First Served

When it comes down to processing the rental screening checks, keep in mind you are legally required to accept the first applicant who meets your criteria. Even if another applicant has a higher-income job or a larger number of rental references, it’s considered discrimination to select them over the first approved candidate. This also means that when the applications come through you should note down the order that you receive each one by jotting down the date and time. Process them in order and contact the first applicant that you accept.

Extra tips

Keep in mind that you also should have the selection criteria clearly attached to rental applications, to ensure that everyone is aware of the requirements before they apply.

You can change the criteria at any time if for example there is an economic downturn and you believe that your required rent allowance is too high and unrealistic to reflect these changes. Just remember to document these changes immediately.

If your company accepts the combined income of a couple for your income requirements, in many States your legally have to offer the same allowance for non-married applicants (such as roommates, an unmarried couple, or family members.)

This is by no means an exhaustive article on renter screening checks so make sure you do an appropriate amount of research before you start applying your checks to applications.

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