Author Topic: Tenant Screening  (Read 8788 times)

mmmj

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Tenant Screening
« on: September 04, 2012, 12:22:58 PM »
Hi all, I'm a landlord for a small condo that I just moved out of.  I've listed on craigslist and received a few interested parties/applications.  I'm curious if those that manage their own properties do any sort of background check/tenant screen and if so, would you recommend the website/tool to me?  I'm looking for something relatively inexpensive.

arebelspy

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2012, 02:42:05 PM »
Absolutely.

I use mysmartmove.com for criminal check/credit check, and then I call previous landlords, employer, (and could potentiall call references listed on application, though I haven't yet), etc.

It's slightly cheaper if you use biggerpockets.mysmartmove.com because of a partnership they have, but I don't know what information they share with bigger pockets.

There are a few other sites, but that's the one I'm using currently.
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keith

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2012, 09:30:22 PM »
I'm not a landlord, but my general thoughts are...

Develop a strict and logical process for screening ahead of time. Follow it to the letter for each tenant who may apply. Be firm and don't let emotion cloud judgement on your process (oh they seem like a nice person, even though the credit report failed my standards).

I would call EVERY reference they provide... and try to fact check the information they provided you. Did they actually live in the previous location in the time frame they specified, etc?

arebelspy

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2012, 10:18:07 PM »
Develop a strict and logical process for screening ahead of time.

Yes, this.  And have your policy written down and stick to it, and make sure you are rejecting tenants for legal reasons* so you don't get sued.  Similarly, be careful how you advertise it.

*Become familiar with your local landlord/tenant laws as well as the fair housing act.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
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Another Reader

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2012, 10:30:04 PM »
I also look at the cars they drive as indicative of how they will keep the house and I write down the license number if it's someone I'm considering seriously to make sure it matches what's on the application.  You would be surprised at how many extra cars and tenants you discover by doing this comparison.

totoro

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2012, 11:29:30 PM »
I check references - I have an application to rent form which asks for their last landlord's contact info and references.  I also get written agreements, do move-in/move-out inspections, and take damage deposits.

I also pay attention to details.  Why did they leave their last rental? How long have they been employed? What are they looking for in a rental? Do they take their shoes off at the door or ask if they need to (polite in Canada)?  I do think that your intuition based your observational skills and character assessment ability is also key.

I have had good tenants to date (knock on wood) and think part of this is due to pricing right so I have a number of tenants to select from.

pl28

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2013, 11:49:04 PM »
Does anyone know that if mysartmove ( transunion) allow landlord to enter potential tenat information his/herself. I got a tenant whom is not very internet savy?

Bearded Man

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2013, 06:15:27 PM »
Develop a strict and logical process for screening ahead of time.

Yes, this.  And have your policy written down and stick to it, and make sure you are rejecting tenants for legal reasons* so you don't get sued.  Similarly, be careful how you advertise it.

*Become familiar with your local landlord/tenant laws as well as the fair housing act.

Quoted for truth. I do exactly this.

Ayanka

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2013, 07:27:50 AM »
I am not a landlord, but a renter. However realise that if you call his current landlord people might not be 100% honest with you. If anyone would ask me my opinion about our ground floor neighbours, I wouldn't tell them they are putting their garbage in the hallway, make a lot of noice (and we have fairly good insulation here) or that give a lot of parties/have lots of visitors. I would tell them I don't know them that well, because I don't see them that often.

arebelspy

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2013, 08:10:56 AM »
I am not a landlord, but a renter. However realise that if you call his current landlord people might not be 100% honest with you. If anyone would ask me my opinion about our ground floor neighbours, I wouldn't tell them they are putting their garbage in the hallway, make a lot of noice (and we have fairly good insulation here) or that give a lot of parties/have lots of visitors. I would tell them I don't know them that well, because I don't see them that often.

Yeah, standard advice in landlording circles is to not only call the current landlord, because they may lie because the tenant is terrible and they want them out, but two landlords ago, who - presumably - would be more forthcoming.

Good thought Ayanka, thanks.
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Blindsquirrel

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2013, 07:05:02 PM »
 I visit their current residence to have them fill out a form or some missing info, if the place is trashed, no way will I rent to them.

fidgiegirl

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2013, 06:40:00 AM »
Yes yes yes!  We use a local agency and it was a pain in the butt to get set up and new clients really have a lot of hoops to jump through, they told us.  If we were to do this again, we might use a different service such as the one arebelspy noted.  DO NOT scrimp on this step!!  Even if you have to pony up an additional month to cover vacancy while you get set up.  If you get a headache tenant in there it will cost you far more.

I am nervous about these suggestions to look at cars and previous residences.  I am no lawyer so maybe it is perfectly legal but on a gut level it feels weird and like it is an invitation to be sued for housing discrimination.  I'd set a clear policy and stick to that.  There are lots of reasons you can deny someone if you are broad enough in setting your initial criteria.

Side story:  My girlfriend used a professional property management company to place tenants in her townhome and all was well, everyone was screened and it was going fine - until after the professional firm was out of the picture and the tentant(s) asked to add an additional person to the lease, to which my friend agreed with no screening.  Now she has had a bunch of trouble.  It's now evident that there is no way this individual would have qualified under her original terms, but she agreed, so now she's stuck dealing.

Bourbon

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2016, 09:11:34 AM »
I use cozy.co , tenants pay directly for their reports and have access to it, and they also offer a free ACH rent collection service.

TightFistedScot

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2016, 03:08:46 PM »
I'm fairly new to landlording. I rent out a 2 bedroom apt in my house (I have a duplex that I live in as well. I have just had 1 set of tenants for 1.5 years, a nightmare set for only 2 months (got rid of them as fast as I could!), and another set who I'm currently renting to and it has been 6 months.

My approach is to call the previous 2 landlords for a reference. The current landlord being less important (he/she may just want to get rid of the tenant), and the older landlord being the most heavily weighted.

In my ad I always write that I do a credit check, but I never actually have done one. But I figure it weeds some people out.

I also meet with the tenants and have a talk about my expectations for the house (mostly in terms of it being no-smoking, quiet, not a party house). It's an older home so sound travels between units a lot. And they of course know I live on the property as well so I imagine that also helps more responsible people to self-select.

TrMama

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2016, 09:46:32 PM »
In addition to all the other great advice, I make sure to allow for some silences in the conversation when I'm showing the unit. Many people are uncomfortable with silence and will tell you all kinds of things about themselves that you'd never even think to ask.

It's a heck of a lot less work than calling references and running credit checks.

Another Reader

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2016, 09:13:03 AM »
I'm fairly new to landlording. I rent out a 2 bedroom apt in my house (I have a duplex that I live in as well. I have just had 1 set of tenants for 1.5 years, a nightmare set for only 2 months (got rid of them as fast as I could!), and another set who I'm currently renting to and it has been 6 months.

My approach is to call the previous 2 landlords for a reference. The current landlord being less important (he/she may just want to get rid of the tenant), and the older landlord being the most heavily weighted.

In my ad I always write that I do a credit check, but I never actually have done one. But I figure it weeds some people out.

I also meet with the tenants and have a talk about my expectations for the house (mostly in terms of it being no-smoking, quiet, not a party house). It's an older home so sound travels between units a lot. And they of course know I live on the property as well so I imagine that also helps more responsible people to self-select.

It's amazing how many people will look you in the eye and tell you they have great credit and no evictions but when you run the credit and criminal histories, an entirely different picture emerges.  I would not be a landlord without the ability to screen using credit and criminal history.  I suggest you start running those reports.

TightFistedScot

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2016, 09:39:03 PM »
I'm fairly new to landlording. I rent out a 2 bedroom apt in my house (I have a duplex that I live in as well. I have just had 1 set of tenants for 1.5 years, a nightmare set for only 2 months (got rid of them as fast as I could!), and another set who I'm currently renting to and it has been 6 months.

My approach is to call the previous 2 landlords for a reference. The current landlord being less important (he/she may just want to get rid of the tenant), and the older landlord being the most heavily weighted.

In my ad I always write that I do a credit check, but I never actually have done one. But I figure it weeds some people out.

I also meet with the tenants and have a talk about my expectations for the house (mostly in terms of it being no-smoking, quiet, not a party house). It's an older home so sound travels between units a lot. And they of course know I live on the property as well so I imagine that also helps more responsible people to self-select.

It's amazing how many people will look you in the eye and tell you they have great credit and no evictions but when you run the credit and criminal histories, an entirely different picture emerges.  I would not be a landlord without the ability to screen using credit and criminal history.  I suggest you start running those reports.

Fair enough. You're probably right. So far I have had 3 sets of tenants and haven't had any issues with non-payment yet. But if I continue landlording then I likely will do a credit check next time.

hucktard

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2016, 10:48:38 AM »
In addition to all the other great advice, I make sure to allow for some silences in the conversation when I'm showing the unit. Many people are uncomfortable with silence and will tell you all kinds of things about themselves that you'd never even think to ask.

It's a heck of a lot less work than calling references and running credit checks.

Running credit checks and checking references is a lot less work than evicting a shitty tenant who wont pay rent! After dealing with a pathological liar of a tenant I realized that I was not as good of a judge of character as I thought! Some people are skilled liars.Verify everything your applicants tell you! You can still be polite but verify. I had one guy fill out an application but left out contact info for his second to last landlord and gave a confusing reason as to why he didn't have the guys contact info. As we were standing there talking I pulled out my phone and googled the previous landlords name and immediately got his phone number. The tenant got visibly nervous. Turns out he had been evicted because he just abandoned the place. When I called his most recent landlord the situation was similar. If I had not verified what the applicant was telling me I would have inherited a serial bad tenant. You must verify what people tell you! I had another tenant who's previous landlord gave him a good recommendation, but he had really bad credit. He turned out to be a terrible tenant. I no longer rent to people with bad credit. People have bad credit because they are irresponsible with money, usually. I do all my own screening and it takes maybe 2 hours per application. It is time well spent.

piethief

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Re: Tenant Screening
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2016, 12:53:25 PM »
I hire out my property management now, I didn't find it worth the 10% rent savings to deal with all the BS myself.  That said, when I did manage myself, I used Mr.Landlord's tenant/credit checks.  That was a while ago, though.