Any one doing screening on Tenants?

What is the generally accepted way of doing tenant screening for rentals?

I’ll give it a go…

When I was doing straight rentals and had a stable corporate income, my screening criteria and process was fairly strict. I would look for income at least three times the rental amount. I wanted stable or consistent work history. I wanted good references. I wanted good credit scores and no criminal background.

Then I went to primarily filling the keepers by using L/O’s. I modified and lessened all my rules and actually marketed for folks with bad credit. You’ll have to forgive my ignorance (I read it was a good idea in a few REI courses and was stupid enough to believe it). After a couple of years of that, it suddenly “dawned on me” that people that have bad credit have it for a reason generally.

So, now I’m back to trying to find some happy middle ground.

I know folks that never pull credit and never check references, but the smart ones generally wait for decent sums of upfront funds. It’s also been my experience that upfront financial commitment is a pretty good qualifier.

Anyway, hopefully you’ll get some other responses as well.

Learn from my mistakes. If they had the money they moved in. I did not check nofin (thats slang for anything). I too now have learned from my mistakes. Here are some of my ideas. The market conditions dictate who you take. If you have a doxen folks applying be picky and get the best. Today if you find one that looks ok you may grab them asap. The best person to ask about tenants is the landlord before the place they live now. You can check their name at any JP office for previous evictions. Most of my properties were in East Austin and I have a hundred war stories. Drug dealers that would send their cute girl friends to apply and next thing you know there would gangs living there. It is always good to visit where they live now to see how they keep up the property. I never did this, wish to hell I had. Some would say they live with their folks. Watch for that big lie. Some I got from weekly motels and I was trying to help them save money and being the good guy would let them move in without a deposit or else pay it over time. I never had any of them pay more than a few months rent and them skip out with a big mess to clean. Because of my laziness and other reasons I am now in Chapter 7 trying to start over for the third time.

Thank you,

Ted P. Stokely Jr

I always screen. On my answering machine my message states that I am looking for good work history and good rental history AND I do check references!
It’s getting harder to rent in my area. There’s a larger pool of risky tenants out there, so my duplex has been empty for two months. Always before I would have anything I owned rented in 1-2 weeks. BUT I would rather wait and fill the vacancy with a good tenant then pay to evict or clean up my property…ask me how I know this!!
Best $ucess,

I use a service called to pull credit and criminal records on a perspective tennant.

Be careful, if they had A1 credit, they would be buying in most cases instead of renting.

I generally find that as long as there are no new problems last 90 days, they will work out ok.

Using saferent’s score, usually a 3 or better is ok in my book.

This is all great info but remeber to look for inconsistancies in the application.

Case in point…

I got a tip from a tenants mother about another tenant in regards to criminal activity. So, I went to do a little investigating on who lets say…“Jim” is.

-Apparently his income is from roofing. Its been 40 degrees here lately and sunny. Hes white as a ghost.
-His hands are softer than my girlfriend’s
-He only had a YMCA photo ID card and the pic was blurry
-ALL of his references were friends
-His employer was just some guy (likely a friend)
-He said he had just a girlfriend. Theres a lady with a ring hanging around as well as a 4 year old. Turns out thats his kid.
-I talked to the police and they knew him very well.
-His curtains are always drawn and windows closed. Day & night.
-I RARELY see him outside.

So, what am I getting at? Compare that application with the person and think about it. Because we didn’t think about the application, now we have a suspected coke dealer in our building.

Things to keep in mind:
-Get the tenant prospect to provide Government issued ID. The more the better.
-Ask questions. Especially about where they work and have been. “Oh, you do roofing? whats the difference in the types of shingles out there?”
-Get them to find some un biased personal references.

Good luck.

I am no longer a landlord since I hired a property manager, but I always screened. Before I became a landlord, I read the book, “Landlording” and joined Landlord Portal, Mr., etc. to see what I was getting myself into. #1 rule was to check national criminal records, full credit for all three bureas, etc. and never deviate from doing background checks even if they have a ton of cash.

Once, I had a young, good-looking couple ask to rent my property. They drove a very expensive car and needed to move asap because they hadn’t found a placed they liked and now their lease was up. Of course, my place was perfect and they wanted to move in that day, so didn’t have time to do background checks. I thought about it and came close to not checking, but decided to run the reports anyway (I used the one from Landlordportal). They had the lowest scores i’d ever seen in my life. They had three recent evictions, credit card chargeoffs, medical charges due, repossessed cars, etc.

Glad I ran a full check because it saved me a huge headache. Follow RyanTrim’s advice when screening because they’re not failsafe. Make sure you call the employer and look them up online to make sure the applicant is not having their friend pose as their previous boss.

If you are in a more profitable suburban rental area, I would suggest one of the online credit search. If you are not in that area, then I would try the free way. In doing my searches I go to the county website - look up the person in the criminal database to see if there is a history there. Then I check with the state department of rehabilitation (prison system) to see if they are there. And then, I go to the sheriff’s website and look them up in the Sexual Offenders database. This is my first step because criminals can have good credit. I’d rather have someone with poor credit card history and no criminal background, than to have someone with a 700 credit score and they are a sexual predator or thief. Also, when interviewing my female tenants who apply by themselves, if their companion stays more than three days - they live there. When doing a background check, I want to check out the boyfriend too. If I haven’t been given the opportunity to do a criminal check on them, then that terminates the lease and out they go.