It’s important to have a process for screening applicants and potential tenants who want to live in your building. Remember that the screening process starts with your advertising. People will call you and you’ll talk and schedule a showing. After the showing comes the leasing, the application, and the actual tenant screening. Most people focus only on the application and screening, but you can and should be screening throughout this entire process.
Establishing Rental Criteria
You need to figure out what is required to live in your building. Then, you write that criteria down. We have a written list that tells all applicants what is required for tenancy. As part of our north Seattle rental property services, we provide a free download that includes sample criteria for landlords. It should include your requirements for income, credit score, and criminal background.
Potential tenants will look at your ad and get into contact with you if they are interested in your property. It’s important that when you call or email them back, you have a set of prequalifying questions to ask them. This ensures they have read the criteria for renting a unit in your building. Talk about what’s required and reiterate what is needed to be approved for a rental. Explain the building rules as well. For example, if dogs are not allowed, you’ll want to tell people that. Make sure that they are a good fit for the building. A lot of times, potential tenants will screen themselves out. They’ll realize they can’t move in with their dog or see that they don’t meet your criteria.
Schedule a Showing
If the prospective tenant makes it through the prequalifying process, you’ll want to show the property in person. At this point, you should have a disclosure notice that explains the application criteria, the process and how an application is filled out. You might have an online application or a paper application. We also require a holding deposit which holds the unit for the tenant while the screening process is completed. The disclosure should say how long the unit will be held, and what happens if the application is declined or the tenant decides against moving in. Have the prospective tenant sign it. This document should also authorize you to verify credit, employment, and rental history. This is helpful so that when you call a former landlord or an employer and they don’t want to release any information without permission, you can send this signed form over.
Screening the Tenant
Check income, credit, and criminal background. You will need to hire a north Seattle tenant checking service to take care of this, and there are plenty of them out there. We can provide you with a referral to Seattle turnover services if you need one. Then, it’s important that you call the previous landlords. I’m always surprised that people don’t check landlord references. Have some questions ready that you’ll always ask when you’re checking with previous landlords.
Pay Attention to Fair Housing
The most important part of the tenant screening process is that every single person is treated the same. Everyone has to get the equal opportunity to apply and rent your unit. By having a written set of criteria, you will protect yourself legally and emotionally. You won’t fall in love with a tenant and ignore your own rules. Protect yourself. Be fair and ethical, and follow your rules.
Hopefully, this has helped you put together a tenant screening process. Please contact us at Olympic View Property Services if you need any help or have any questions.