Every landlord starts out with little to no experience, and if you've been in the game for long, you know that this initial inexperience can prove costly. Good research and quick learning are imperative. Fortunately, you don't have to figure this out on your own. Whether you're renting out your first property or have been a landlord for a decade, you should always check into the following aspects of a person's life as part of your tenant screening process before renting to them.

Employment History
Employment history is one of the most vital factors to consider when it comes to a prospective tenant. This doesn't mean only former employment, however; it's important to know the individual's current status. Ask for their resume and contact information for references.
Contact current employers to verify employment and income if possible. Also, take note if it seems the individual is constantly changing jobs. This could be a sign of an irresponsible tenant. There are even ways to verify self employment to ensure a potential tenant is a good fit.

Criminal Background
A criminal background check should also be an imperative aspect of your tenant screening process. Landlord time management may prove difficult and make this seem like a waste of energy, but letting tenants know what type of convictions will bar them from renting can cut down on unnecessary checks.
Many landlords will use these background checks to verify that there are no convictions related to damaging previous rental properties, while others may want to avoid renting to convicted felons. Fortunately, online property management software can perform these checks, and you can decide how much consideration to give these results.

Former Evictions
There are a variety of ways to check for evictions in a person's history, and it usually begins with obtaining information about their previous addresses. Of course, some people will deliberately leave out former residences in an effort to hide an eviction, but fortunately, there are ways to overcome this.
First off, there are online tools that allow landlords to get tenant screening reports that will likely have this information. Additionally, a credit check can reveal information regarding a person's rental history. While a prior eviction isn't necessarily a bad sign, it is one of the most effective ways to screen out potentially bad tenants.

Personal References
Personal references should not be given as much weight as the other factors on this list. After all, it's likely that a person will make sure to only list individuals they know will speak highly of them. Still, it's an important part of the screening process. If a personal reference has something negative to say about the renter, it's a good sign that you might be looking at a deadbeat renter and should move on.

Rental History
While screening for evictions can reveal a large amount about a potential tenant's renting habits, it by no means can reveal everything. If a tenant consistently had loud parties that disturbed the neighbors, repeatedly made late rental payments or left a unit in complete disarray, this isn't going to show up while looking for evictions.
Fortunately, this can be remedied with a few phone calls. Make sure to get previous landlords' information from prospective tenants, and make it your priority to contact these individuals. Actually speaking with former landlords can reveal far more information than a simple credit check ever could.
Screening potential renters may seem like a daunting task, and when you're not accustomed to knowing what to look for, things can become even more difficult. Fortunately, countless landlords have come and gone before you, and the fact that they made mistakes means that you can learn from them. By simply looking into the five aforementioned aspects of a rental applicant, you will easily find out most of what you need to know.

POSTED July 17 2015 9:08 AM

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