Reference Check: How to Screen Tenants

YNM Real Estate
20 December 2021

As a landlord, have you ever wondered how to screen a potential tenant? You may already have a broker or a real estate agent who specialises in reference checks and that should include background check. You may also choose to do it on your own being the best judge you can be based on the information that is presented to you. Regardless of the route you take, you should always be cautious. Here are a few examples of how you can approach screening tenants before you consider them.

  • Have an application form that details all the information a prospective tenant must furnish. This may be seen as a tedious process but it will be helpful eventually. Get as many applications as you can so you have a treasure trove to choose from. When you are focused on marketing, the objective is often to get the numbers in. Include factual information as one of the focal points.
  • At the very outset, an application must require proof of identification and income proof. Without these two simple details, you should not consider any application. There should be relevant fields asking the prospective tenants to let you know about their family, what kind of profession they are in, where they have stayed till now and other details that you think are useful. These details should help you to create a shortlist from the long list of applicants. Get as many details of the shortlisted applications vetted as you can.
  • Two of the most effective ways of conducting a reference check which will also be a default background check are to contact the previous landlord and to get in touch with the employer. The previous landlord or landlords will be able to tell you what kind of a tenant an applicant has been. The employer will be able to tell you what kind of a professional and person he or she is. Having a brief feedback from them, which may not always be specific, will help you to form your own opinion. Focus on the truthfulness of the tenant in the declaration and not on opinionated feedback.
  • If the landlord and employer are happy with the applicant, chances are you would be happy with them too. Now, tally the feedback with reasons the prospective tenant gives you for moving. If you find continuity and semblance, then you have nothing to worry.
  • Finally, ask the prospective tenants if they have ever been evicted and if they have any legal case history, civil or criminal.

As always, our best advice is to ask your YNM real estate property expert to help you through this process – as an investor, you should have experts on hand to help navigate this for you.

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