Updated: Mar 14, 2022
We've all heard the horror stories of residents that destroy property or default on their rent. An unruly tenant can be a nightmare for any rental property owner, both emotionally and financially draining. But how can you preempt that a tenant will be a good fit for your property? That’s where thorough screening can help.
Tenant Screenings will help protect your rental investment, giving you peace of mind knowing that you chose a trustworthy tenant, that will pay their rent on time, consider your property as their own, be respectful of other tenants, and neighbours.
Here are 7 ways to weed out the good tenants from the ‘bad’.
Asking the right questions is the first and most important step to a successful tenant background check.
Questions to ask during tenant screening:
When do you need a place?
Have you given notice to your existing landlord?
What industry do you work in?
Are you currently employed?
How is your credit report?
What is your maximum budget?
How many bedrooms do you need?
Do you have pets?
How many people will you be living with?
2. Get them talking by asking open-ended questions. Example - “How’s your relationship been with your current landlord?”.
You’ll get to discover a lot from a potential renter by merely talking to them. It will also help you better understand the way they relate to others and how they handle conflict, which is vital to get the best screening.
3. Look for troubling signs. Check for any suspicious signs in their answers or body language, your gut feeling about someone shouldn't be ignored.
4. Confirm their identity online by using different search engines or social platforms to search their names and cross-reference everything you come across with the rental application and supporting documents provided by the tenant. Check the employer and the photo to see if it matches the same person you are dealing with.
5. Never just use the employer's contact number provided, always check the internet to verify the company’s website because it’s easy for any tenant to have someone pretend to be their employer over the phone.
6. Verify the current landlord's name using proper channels you could get a realtor or lawyer to conduct a land registry check on the addresses belonging to the tenant’s current and previous landlords.
7. Confirm the current rental period. When renters lie about their current landlord reference, they also lie about the period they rented their current home. Therefore, a robust tenant background screening will attempt to detect deception on multiple levels so as to lessen the probability of approving a bad tenant.
8. Ensure affordability and if the rent is realistically within budget for the tenant based on their budget and income.
9. Pull your own reports and do not solely rely on what you received from the tenant.
Before you approve a tenant, you should be using a trusted third party to pull a credit report. 10. Verify photo identity. Once the tenant meets all the criteria for screening, don’t forget to ask for a Photo ID before signing the lease contract.
It's impossible to protect yourself entirely from the possibility of having a bad tenant but these tips will help you implement the best tenant background screening possible. Also, note there may be tenant screening bylaws in your province which you are legally required to abide by, please check with your local housing authority to ensure you are complying with these and are not asking for information that is not permitted by said laws.