I thought I would post some tips on how to screen tenants.¬† Over the years I have found many landlords that skip some very important steps when screening tenants, so I’m posting some tips that have helped me.¬†
Without fail it seems that every-time I have a vacancy I will always find someone that offers me up front cash and is anxious to rent the unit quickly.¬† Yes, I’ve fallen for this trick a couple of times… You know how it is, sometimes when it’s slow you just want to fill the vacancy quickly so you take the bait.¬†
Speaking from experience, never ever place yourself in this type of a situation.¬† Ask yourself the following questions:
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1.¬† Why is the tenant so anxious to move?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Most likely this is a sign of a tenant that is being evicted or forced to move.¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† You will have to be careful with judgement on this, even if the tenant gives you
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† a valid reason for need to move in so¬†quickly it may be a trick to play¬†on your
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† emotions.¬† Can you verify their story?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 2.¬† Did the tenant have any questions about the unit or features?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Everyone should have some questions about the rental before renting.¬† If the¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† seems like they are¬†completely happy with the rental,¬†especially without a good¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†walk-through; it probably means that they don’t plan on staying for very long.¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Are they planning on getting evicted within a couple of months?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 3.¬† Does it sound too good to be true?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Most people don’t rush into renting a place unless their is a hidden reason such as
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† eviction history, drug problems, etc.¬† Is the renter acting way off character, do¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† their actions¬†match up with the obligations required?¬†
Gut feelings and first impressions are usually the worst form of screening.¬† Some of my most costly mistakes have been based off of renting to someone that I “felt” good about.¬† I know the importance of saving money, and because of that I have found myself skipping over the background check in order to save a little money.¬† I learned the hard way that this is one of the poorest decisions to be made¬†as a landlord.¬† Now I ask myself the following before renting to someone:
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1.¬† How much will it cost me to replace flooring, fixtures, appliances?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Bad tenants can cause costly repairs.¬† Once after remodelling a unit I renting to
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† someone based on a gut feeling…¬† 3 months later the unit was completely trashed
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† costing more than $5,000 in repairs.¬† Although the renter seemed¬†like the¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† perfect renter, they actually had a history of drug problems.¬† Had I spent the $20
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† on a background check I would’ve found their history and would’ve never rented¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† to them.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 2.¬† How¬†much will it cost me if I have to evict the tenant?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†If I have to evict the tenant, how much money will I lose in the court process and¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† with lost rent?¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†3.¬† How long¬†will it take me to fill the¬†vacancy again?¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† This question is two-fold, how long will it take to get the rental ready to rent, and
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† how long will it take me to find a renter?¬† The quickest I’ve ever seen a rental¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† turn from vacancy¬†to rented was one week, and¬†that’s very rare.¬†¬†Even if you can
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† rent out your unit in one week¬†you will still be losing 7 days of rent, which could¬†¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† be several hundred dollars.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 4.¬†How much time and headache can this cause me?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I already have enough stress in my life, so I don’t need to cause any more
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† headaches.¬† And I’m sure all of us can use all the time we have on other things.
In short, you should never ever consider not screening a tenant before renting to them.¬† Their is way too much to risk.¬† By far the smartest decision you can make as a landlord is to spend money on the screening process.¬† The old saying of stepping over a dollar to pick up a nickle holds so true to the screening process.¬† Don’t risk saving a few dollars when you have thousands at risk.¬†