5 Research Tools Every New Landlord Should Take Advantage Of
When first starting out, many landlords think their job is just to collect the money, fix property issues, and periodically market their listings to find new tenants. Even after a short time in the industry, though, it becomes apparent that renting out property is a much more involved process. Fortunately, if you're just starting out as a landlord, there are plenty of tools to make your job easier.
Online Background Checks
Failing to do a thorough background check can prove disastrous. Without one, you might rent to an individual who faced charges related to damaging previous rental properties. Additionally, you could end up renting to a dangerous felon or an individual whose very presence puts neighbors or other tenants in danger.
In the end, failing to delve into a prospective tenant's past could leave you on the hook for repair costs or even facing litigation. Fortunately, background checks no longer require tedious trips to the court house. You can now perform these checks online, and if nothing comes back on the applicants, it's even possible to verify their identities in case they're trying to hide something.
Simple Online Search
It's important to inquire about previous addresses, but you should also realize that a potential tenant with a recent eviction isn't likely to be honest about the situation. This is why it's important to do a simple online search for the applicant. It won't provide the holy grail of information on an individual, but it could end up showing recent addresses that weren't on the application.
It's quite simple to read a credit report once you're used to it, so performing credit checks is one of the best research tools you'll come across as a landlord. These checks can turn up former evictions, outstanding debt, collection accounts and sometimes even former employers.
Luckily, this is another process that you can do online. In fact, it's possible to have these checks performed by the same company that's handling the criminal background check. You're going to want tenants who have a history of handling their debts responsibly, and this is one of the best ways to discover those individuals.
Previous Employment Search
During the credit check, some online property management providers also investigate a prospective tenant's employment history. This will obviously not replace verifying the individual's current employment status and income, but it will reveal a fair amount of information that could sway your decision. What if, for instance, a person has had three different jobs in the previous year? This shows a potential lack of stability, and it's definitely something you should investigate further.
Good Old Fashioned Detective Work
Technology has obviously made the new landlord's job far simpler, but this doesn't mean that everything is automated. You'll still need to get your hands dirty just a bit. When you get information on former landlords, for instance, make a point of following through and contacting them. A lack of evictions on someone's record doesn't necessarily mean the person paid rent on time or took care of the property, but a former landlord can give you all of this information and more.
Additionally, you'll want to contact the applicant's current employer. A recent pay stub is only evidence that the individual did have a job; it doesn't prove that the person wasn't recently fired or isn't currently unemployed. A quick call to the listed employer can put your mind at ease.
As a new landlord, you're going to experience a learning curve. Fortunately, enough people have walked before you that all the tools you need are easily accessible. Get to know these tools and use them consistently to protect yourself and your property from problem tenants.
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