Owning a rental property is a great investment, but you’ve got to have the right tenants to make the most of it. You may not have as much time as you’d like to thoroughly investigate potential tenants. That means you may find yourself in a legal bind when a seemingly great applicant turns out to be a wolf with perfect credit. Here are a few ways you can keep unsavory individuals at bay.
- Get Proof of Identity. Checking an applicant’s identity is standard practice. Rather than just making sure the person looks like her or his license or passport, make a photocopy of the ID for your records. If you like, you can also run a check on the person’s license plate to take the identity check one step further. Is this overkill? Not compared to the headache of having to deal with and potentially evict a problem tenant.
- Perform a Credit Check. Sure, the applicant may have enough for the deposit, first month’s rent, and fees, but what about future rent payments? By running a credit check, you give yourself an idea of how responsible the person is with money. Sure, that credit score may dip in the coming months, but what it is right now is a good indication of whether you can expect to get rent checks on time.
- Talk to Employers and Past Landlords. Employers ask for references to get an idea of what kind of employees job candidates will be. As a landlord, you should do the same for potential tenants. Reach out to an applicant’s old landlord to ask what kind of tenant she or he was, whether rent was paid on time and if any complaints were filed regarding him or her. Additionally, contact current and past employers. The applicant may not be working on or at your property, but how that person works says a lot about what kind of resident he or she will be.
- Run a Background Check. Has this applicant been evicted in the past? Running a free background check can uncover this information. What’s more is you can see if the person has a criminal past. You have to decide if you’re willing to take a chance on a former criminal who’s trying to get her or his life together. Just as all seemingly perfect applicants aren’t as great as they may seem, not all former convicts are lifelong criminals. It’s up to you to decide what to do with the information you uncover with a background check.
- Meet in Person. These days, it’s easier than ever to view an apartment, submit an application, and pay all necessary fees online before moving in, all without a face-to-face meeting. Despite this, it’s best you meet with applicants in person before taking them on as official tenants. By physically meeting with people, you can get a better feel for their personality. There’s also the fact that someone who seems great when communicating electronically may give you a bad feeling in your gut when you meet that person. Always trust your instincts when it comes to these matters.
It’s perfectly fine to feel as if you’re doing more than necessary while screening potential tenants. You deserve to reap the full benefits of your investment, and having responsible people living on your property is a great way to fulfill that potential.
Note: this article contains contributed content.