Being a landlord is not easy. There are many responsibilities that must be handled: filling vacancies, dealing with nonpayments, repairing and keeping up the property, just to name a few. Then there is the biggest headache of all, which is contending with wayward tenants.
The good news is that, by implementing a tenant screening process, a landlord has the power to decrease the chance of getting stuck with a difficult tenant. Yay!
Not sold on the idea? Well, read on.
Here are 5 reasons why smart landlords have a strong tenant screening process:
#1: Helps keep all tenants safe. Renting to someone with a violent criminal history can end up endangering all of your other tenants. What if the person decides to shoot another tenant during an altercation? What if the tenant has drug convictions, and ends up blowing your complex up with a meth lab? A sad but true fact is past behavior is the most accurate predictor of future behavior. Reviewing each potential tenant’s criminal history is an easy, inexpensive way to help minimize the possibly horrible repercussions of renting to a dangerous person.
#2: Protects your bottom line. The wrong tenant can not only stress you out, he can be a big slam to your bank account. Think about this: if you rent to a person and decide not to pull a tenant credit report, you have NO IDEA how much debt he carries, and whether or not he pays his bills responsibly. If you end up being forced to evict him, the eviction process takes time. Meanwhile, the tenant is living on your property and not paying you a dime. By the time the eviction is complete, you could have lost thousands of dollars in rent! A good portion of the time, reviewing a tenant credit report steers you away from such a tenant.
#3: Enhances quality of tenants. In a perfect world, our property would be filled with tenants who paid on time, caused no damage, were quiet as mice, and got along with their neighbors. A solid tenant screening process is the single best way you can make this dream into a reality! By obtaining information up front about a potential renter’s credit history, employment status, and criminal history, you can ‘weed out’ the majority of people who will end up giving you problems. It’s worth a little time and energy up front to increase the quality and of your tenants.
#4: Minimizes risk of getting sued. Lack of a tenant screening process not only sets you up for undependable tenants, it can cause you legal nightmares. If another tenant is harmed by a fellow tenant, and it can be proven his background would have helped predict this behavior, a landlord could be on the hook for negligence. If the injured tenant is able prove the landlord acted negligently, and it played a part in the incident, the tenant could have a case. If, however, the landlord can show the instigator’s clean criminal history and no prior evidence of the tenant’s dangerous tendencies, it will go a long way to show the landlord did his homework and acted in good faith when renting to this person.
#5: Reduces the risk of property damage. Tenants have complete access to your property. That means they can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage and leave you holding the bill. Don’t let this happen! A thorough tenant screening process allows you to look at the person’s prior eviction records, so you can see if and when the tenant was evicted for property damage.
Now, while screening your tenants doesn’t 100% guarantee the renters will be model citizens, it will definitely reduce the chance of renting to a person who won’t pay his bill, is dangerous, or will damage your property. Take the time to set up a thorough and consistent tenant screening process for the sake of your current tenants, your property, and your bank account. You have nothing (but future headaches) to lose!