One of the most vital steps in becoming a successful landlord is the ability to thoroughly scrutinize tenant rental applications. Conducting a tenant screening can greatly reduce the risks that come with less than ideal tenants such as late or missed rent payments, property damage, and eviction.
As a landlord, it is important to learn about the rental verification process. It’s equally important to understand how to conduct tenant verification, especially if you are new to the world of owning a rental property.
Rental verification or tenant verification is important because it gives landlords a snapshot of the prospective tenant’s rental history. Verification is conducted by running background checks online, by phone, and/or by email to get insight into the applicant’s rental and financial history. The verification process also allows the landlord an opportunity to confirm that the information provided in the application is authentic.
Although actual processing times vary, it generally takes anywhere from 48 to 72 hours to complete the verification process. The process may take longer if the landlord has received multiple applications for the same property.
Here are some practical tips for completing the rental verification process.
First things first, confirm how authentic your potential tenant’s information is. Let’s face it–people can lie about almost anything, especially if there’s a good chance they don’t qualify on merit. If you don’t take this matter seriously, you run the risk of renting to a sub-par tenant.
Always confirm the applicant’s identity using a government-issued identification card. It could be a state-issued driver’s license, passport, travel visa, or social security card. Once you have validated their identity you can continue validating the rest of the information noted on their rental application.
The second thing you’ll want to verify is the tenant’s employment status. Rental applicants are asked to provide employment information, and it is your responsibility as the landlord to confirm whether the information provided is legitimate, especially as it relates to employer and income information.
During rental verification, one of the decisive factors you should be looking at is whether the job is permanent or temporary. A permanent job is more indicative of a steady stream of income and confirmation that the applicant would have the means to pay rent consistently.
In standard rental applications, the tenant includes contact information for employers. You may either contact the listed employers using that information to confirm if the provided information is accurate or you may ask for additional documents which support their claim of working at the mentioned job.
Those who are self-employed might not have a pay stub but you can ask them for tax returns. But if someone is reluctant to provide their employment information, you should not consider that application and move on to the next.
The major problem landlords have to face is partial or no rental payments. Landlords have to consider eviction when tenants don’t pay their rent consistently. The eviction process is exhausting and costly for landlords.
To help alleviate this issue on the onset, make checking the tenant’s income a priority. Make sure that tenants earn enough monthly income to consistently pay their monthly rent. Most landlords like to ensure that the potential tenant’s gross monthly income is at least three times the monthly rent amount.
If you are not satisfied with what the rental applicant provides, don’t hesitate to ask for more documentation about their income. Ask your potential tenant to provide pay stubs, bank statements, or tax returns. By taking this extra step of caution on the front end, you can reduce the possibility of having to evict the tenant later.
Other than on-time rent payments, the major concern of most landlords is how someone takes care of the property. Of course, no one would ever want to rent out a home to someone who has a history of damaging property at the end of the lease. This poses an undue financial burden on the landlord.
The best way to verify a rental applicant’s rental history is by contacting their previous landlords and asking about their experience with them as a tenant. If a tenant did not take care of the property in the past, the previous landlord will undoubtedly say so.
Make sure to ask specific questions that only the previous landlord would know such as the address of the property. Monthly rent and dates of residency to weed out any potential fake landlord references.
When you contact the previous landlord, ask if the applicant was ever on the verge of eviction or if they were, in fact, evicted. Also, inquire about any gaps in tenancy history if there are any. You should be concerned if a potential tenant is reluctant about sharing a complete rental history.
Proper screening is a way to help ensure you rent to a great tenant. Keep in mind no method of screening is foolproof. But most of the tips we’ve provided will help you identify red flags should they exist.
Take the time and utilize the resources available to conduct a thorough screening beforehand to help avoid any issues later.