Most landlords end up doing the bare minimum when it comes to qualifying potential renters. There are many times when that one phone call to verify employment goes undone – the results – unpaid rent, evictions and many other headaches. If you you don’t have the time, then it’s best to hire a property management company. If you choose to manage all aspects of your property, here are a few tips:

1. Conduct a Phone Interview

• Inviting a prospective renter to view a property before the applications process might prove to be a waste of time for you both. It’s best practice to conduct a short phone screening first to determine if the basic accommodations and terms and conditions of the property are clear and meet the prospect’s needs.

• Pose your questions carefully. For example, instead of disclosing how many people the property can accommodate, ask the prospect if he/she will want anyone additional on the lease.

2. Show the Property

• After the phone interview, you may feel that a certain prospect is the perfect fit for your rental property. Don’t move too fast and rely on your gut feeling. It is crucial to meet with a potential renter first to get a sense of their personality – you will have many interactions with them during their tenancy.

• Always keep a spreadsheet of all prospective renters who have visited the property and make notes on what their interest level, whether or not they filled out a rental application and other important notes. It will keep you organized and provide even more documentation just in case you need it down the road.

• Consider holding a rental open house. Attendees will see the property is in high-demand creating a peak in interest and sense of urgency.

3. Review the Applications

If all the above steps go well, then it’s time to present the rental application. Here are some tips on this important step:

• Before reviewing an application make sure you familiarize yourself with the Federal Fair Housing Act and your local and state discrimination laws for additional regulations. In addition, to avoid discrimination violations use the same applications and requirements when screening each applicant.

• Make sure you keep a record of all applications you receive. Applications can help protect you against discrimination complaints. Hold onto this paperwork for at least two years.

• Check the application for any disqualifying factors or inconsistencies. If the applicant is unemployed then you will need to follow up and find out more information.

4. Perform Reference Checks

Taking the time to perform credit, criminal background and reference checks. It will give you an added layer of confidence when making the final selection.

• Run a credit and criminal background check using a trusted screening solutions company online. Most will require you to go through a credentialing process to prove you are a landlord. This step is now required to protect the personal information of applicants and prevent against identity theft.

• When checking employment references, it’s best to confirm the information on the application as far as salary, time employed only and not ask too many detailed questions. Most companies are only allowed to give out certain specifics.

• It happens! Applicants will give out references who are actually friends or family members impersonating an employer or previous landlord. During the reference call try to give out limited information. Introduce yourself and state you are performing a reference check and ask the person how they know the applicant.


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