Hello my name is Damon Duvall. I am a Broker Associate with Wendy Morris Realty here in central Florida. I am going to give you some of the basics on “tenant screening”.
Tenant Screening is probably the most important part of the rental process. This is the step that you can not make a mistake in. Our brokerage manages many properties and we outsource the tenant screening. The company we use has tons of data and makes no mistakes not to mention the fair housing laws. However, this video is geared to you, the private owner and landlord/property manager.
First become aware of the fair housing laws, and any state laws that will apply to you. For example, some states will not allow you to decline a felon simply because he/she is a convicted felon.
Second screen everyone and ask everyone the exact same questions. Some of the information you will want is a credit check, criminal background check and a rental history check.
The renter should pay up front for the background check. Hand the sheet to them and just watch them fill it out. If they hand it to you partially filled out hand it back to them and say I need that filled out entirely please. If they leave with it and never return, your screening worked. Just hope the form was legal and they are not taking it to an attorney.
A credit check should reflect a rental payment history if they have rented a home or apartment from a property management company. Bad credit means you should walk away. On a side not never take a partial payment on the deposit and let a tenant move in. Also, never take a personnel check and let a renter move in without it clearing your bank first.
Keep in mind bad renters seek out for rent by owners. If you call to verify employment or rental history here are a couple of tips. If you hear or fail to hear what you should in the background let that be a red flag. For example, if you call a machine shop for an employment verification and it sounds like a pre-school. Maybe ask this as your very first question, and how are you related to the John Doe Renter? If you call a previous landlord they may not be able to answer many questions for you. Ask yourself, why are they not still renting from the same person? You can also ask, would you rent to this renter again?
Deposit checks and first rental checks. Never take a partial payment before move in. If you do it may bounce and you can wager other checks will also. Maybe even monthly. If they will not pay electronically than charge them extra for taking the cash or check. Call it a service that you charge for not a fee. because it is taking your time to go by and deposit the cash or check. If the tenant wants to pay rent on payday several times a month then increase the rent by 8% for the service. This will be like renting the home out for 13 months a year. Try to get the rent set up as a direct deposit.
Now some basic screening tips. When asking for the tenants, name also ask for aliases or if they have used any other name. Not every one knows what alias means and ask this of everyone 18 or older who will be living in the home. If you are renting to a non-married couple, two rental applications and look at both ID’s and check the birth dates. If they look young keep in mind your states requirements for signing a lease. (18)
Where do you live now? How long have you lived there? Where did you live previously? If you are curious google the address on your phone to see if it is real or accurate. You can also go to the county property assessor’s site to get the owners information.
Other sources of income, is that income current? (when in doubt ask for a bank statement).
What types and how many vehicles. Does your HOA have vehicle restrictions? This information will also help you track visitors that also turn into undocumented tenants.
Next who will occupy the property throughout the year? Will you have others living here part time? Keep in mind they may have partial custody etc. If children are visiting in the summer for example do you have the lawful amount of rooms for those scheduled guests.
Now ask them if they have ever been evicted or asked to move out. If they have been evicted it will show up in court records. Keep in mind they are renting from a by owner. Never waver on your application especially the criminal background check. You do not want to rent to a sex offender and get sued for not knowing.
Because this is you tube and people everywhere can see this, here is a great tip. Always ask if they are now or have ever used a controlled substance. In some states you may get your property seized for knowingly allowing someone to use drugs in your home. A signed lease with this question is a great defense. Your lease should allow you to terminate it if you later (during their occupancy) discover a falsehood.
In closing remember it is much cheaper to have an empty house than one with a bad renter. Eviction fees, repairs and loss of rental income are no laughing matter.
Our rental management fee is currently just 8% for one home and 7% for two or more homes. That comes out to just one rent payment per year. When you consider what we can do for you and the hassles we can help you avoid, if you live in central Florida contact us today.