Have you had a lot of dead-beat tenants who fall behind on their rent, don't take care of the property, or get into disagreements with their neighbors? Perhaps it is time to kick your tenant screening process up a notch! There's always a chance a tenant may screen well but still turn out to be a "bad egg." By implementing these three upgrades to your screening process, you can reduce the chances of this happening.
Ask for previous landlord contact information – and actually make the calls.
A lot of landlords and property managers ask their prospective tenants for the contact information of their previous landlords. However, few actually call these landlords for a proper reference. Make a habit of doing this. Ask the previous landlord whether the tenant always paid on time, what condition the home was at the end of the lease, and if the tenant was generally amicable with the neighbors. Listen carefully to the responses – if the landlord is hesitant to give you information, it's likely they have a poor opinion of the tenant and just don't want to say so. If a prospective tenant refuses to give you the contact information of a previous landlord, or if the landlord says something you don't like, simply don't lease to that person.
Contact the tenant's employer.
Asking for a couple of pay stubs is common practice, but it is not necessarily enough. A prospective tenant could have been terminated yesterday, and they would still have a month of previous pay stubs to show you! Ask prospective tenants for the contact information of their current employers, and call the employers. Ask if the person is currently employed and if they are in good standing with the company. Don't lease to someone who is hesitant to provide you with their employer's contact information. Someone with nothing to hide won't mind if you make this call.
Ask the tenant to list their annual salary.
Once again, simply requesting a couple of pay stubs is not enough. A tenant employed at an hourly rate may have made a good wage according to the pay stubs they show you but may only bring home half that on a regular basis. Asking prospective tenants to list their annual salary will ensure you choose tenants who can realistically afford to pay the rent.
By adding the three steps above to your tenant screening process, you can hopefully weed out more of the non-paying, troublemaking tenants before they sign a lease. Other professionals, like Pacific Properties, can give you more advice.