When I was teaching at the Rental Housing Association in Oakland, I would tell my students that the number one thing a property manager or a landlord can do is a good tenant screening. Every tenant screening process should start with a credit check. It’s very important to get an accurate credit report and one of the best ways of finding a good tenant. When you have a good tenant in your property, you can be sure the rent will be paid on time and the property will be kept in excellent condition.
In addition to a credit report, you also want to get an eviction report. It is important to check evictions nationwide so you’ll know if an applicant was evicted in any other state. Our policy at Astound Property Management is to not rent to anyone who has been evicted in the past. When we find an eviction during our screening process, we will not allow that applicant to lease the property.
On the credit report, you want to look for late payments, judgments and any outstanding debts that have gone to a collection agency. In addition to the credit report, we also look at the FICO score to determine whether an applicant is right for a property. In general, we think a 700 is a good FICO score, but we set parameters for applicants depending on where the property is located. The area of your rental home will tell you what kind of credit score you can expect from applicants and tenants.
Always talk to prior landlords during your screening process. Find out what kind of tenant this person was and whether they paid on time and took care of the property. You can talk to current landlords as well, but keep in mind they might be anxious to get rid of a bad tenant, and if that’s the case, they won’t give you accurate information. Ask for employment information and always verify that the applicant has a job. You also want to confirm that they are earning what they say they are earning.
We cannot overstate the importance of tenant screening. Don’t skimp on the vetting process or the credit report. If you have any questions, or you need some help with developing your own tenant screening process, please contact us at Astound Property Management.
All blog post information is original material created by Astound Property Management's founder and president Stuart Levitas.