You have a great property that you know tenants love, but finding equally great tenant takes time, effort, and experience. When you're first starting out, it's easy to make some mistakes and spend a lot more time screening tenants than necessary. Take advantage of property management techniques, tools, and services to reduce the amount of time you spend screening tenants. You'll have more time to manage your properties and establish yourself as a landlord when you streamline your screening process.

Create a Screening Guide

Forbes recommends that the first step you take in the tenant screening process is the creation of a complete guide that details the type of information you'll require from prospective tenants. Each landlord has his or her own preferences regarding red flags and issues that may be unacceptable. You'll need to consider a variety a scenarios, such as if you'll allow someone with a bankruptcy to rent an apartment, rather than automatically disqualifying them. Make sure that you establish exactly what you will and won't allow from the beginning. Creating a structured guide not only gives you a screening blueprint you can reference time and time again, it also allows you to double-check the guide against housing laws and regulations to ensure that you are following legal requirements.

Create a Targeted Ad

If you post a generic ad about a good property in a popular location, chances are you're going to get inundated with applications. Going through each application takes time, energy, and effort that could be spent managing your properties and purchasing additional properties. Target your ad to the type of tenant that you're interested in seeing in your rental, and make sure that you detail any disqualification criteria, such as a low credit score or a criminal record. That way, you aren't looking through applications that are going to get denied in the end.

Consider Application Fees

Charging an application fee is another way to encourage tenants to self-screen themselves before they contact you directly. The application fee, which you may choose to make refundable if the tenant signs a lease with you, creates a financial investment on the tenant's end. This makes potential tenants more likely to apply only for properties that truly meet their needs and your requirements. The application fee can also cover the cost of credit and background checks so you aren't paying those expenses out-of-pocket for tenants that may not be qualified to rent.

Use Online Services

You can perform credit checks, background checks, and other screening checks on your own, but that's not nearly as efficient as using an all-in-one service. Using a service can also be cheaper than paying for each type of check individually. Not only does the company handle the grunt work with running checks to let you know if a tenant is suitable, these services are also available online so you can access them day or night.

Don't Gloss Over References

If your tenant passes all of the other application and check tests, talk to their references. Even if you suspect that the references you receive are not previous landlords, it makes sense to at least call and check. Many tenants may assume that you won't check the references.


This list of tips will help you screen your candidates smoothly and efficiently and help you get the right tenants in your properties as soon as possible.

POSTED November 18 2014 2:15 PM

Tenant Screening

Comprehensive credit & criminal screening.
Get access to bankruptcies, employment history, medical records, past addresses, evictions and more.

View Pricing & Get Started

Legal Forms

State-specific legal forms.
Lease agreements, rental applications, lease termination, eviction forms and much more.

Browse Our Legal Forms

Membership Pricing

Our paid membership plans now include free tenant screenings! Greater access to all of our features and the membership pays for itself!

View Pricing & Get Started

Landlord Tenant Laws
top 100 landlords