Trying to find the perfect tenant hidden in a pile of applications can be a stressful task for many San Jose landlords. The pressure of knowing that one bad tenant has the potential to hurt your income can almost be too much for some property owners to handle, but finding high-quality tenants doesn’t have to be difficult if you know how to properly screen new tenants. Today, our San Jose property management experts are sharing their biggest recommendations for choosing reliable tenants.
HOW TO SCREEN NEW TENANTS FOR YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY:
1. CREATE A THOROUGH RENTAL APPLICATION
Your rental application form should request information about the following 3 categories: personal information, financial information, and employment status/ history.
Collect as much information as possible about the applicants’ rental history. Ask applicants how long they’ve been renting and request the names and contact information for any previous or current landlords. Some applicants may also be current or former home owners, so be sure to ask about this as well. Generally, the best tenants have rented or owned a property for at least 2 years, though that’s certainly not to say applicants with less history can’t also make good tenants. That being said, it’s important to not only ask for personal references, but to actually contact them as well to see if they speak highly of the applicant.
To eliminate applicants who may struggle paying rent, only consider applications from those whose monthly income is at least three times the rent payment. Of course, this should be verified by requesting a copy of a recent paystub.
EMPLOYMENT STATUS AND HISTORY
Aside from making sure your potential new tenant is currently employed, you’ll want to make sure he or she has a steady work history and has not been unemployed within the past 12 months.
REMEMBER TO RECEIVE PERMISSION FOR CREDIT AND BACKGROUND CHECKS
Most landlords understandably prefer not to rent to applicants with criminal backgrounds, however, you must make sure you have written permission from an applicant if you intend to conduct a background check. Likewise, you should receive authorization from applicants prior to obtaining credit reports.
2. CONTACT PREVIOUS LANDLORDS
After you’ve confirmed that the applicant can afford monthly rent payments and the background checks and credit reports come back with favorable results, reach out to his or her past landlords to discuss their experience renting to the applicant. Ask each previous landlord if the tenant was ever late with rent, and find out more specific information, such as the following:
- Did the tenant clean and maintain the home properly?
- Did the tenant break his or her lease agreement?
- Has this tenant disturbed his or her neighbors while renting from you?
When speaking to previous landlords, take advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as you can about any potential risks or benefits that may come from renting to the applicant. If, for instance, a previous landlord mentions that the applicant went above and beyond to maintain a property, this piece of information could help you decide who to rent to if the decision comes down to 2 final choices.
3. CHECK PERSONAL REFERENCES
We briefly mentioned the importance of reaching out to each applicant’s personal references. Not all landlords complete this step, but speaking with people who know the applicant well may end up paying off in the long run. Here are some great questions to ask your applicants’ personal references:
- Have you ever been to the applicant’s home, and if so, how would you describe the condition and level of cleanliness?
- Does the applicant have any pets?
- Do friends or family members often stay in the applicant’s home?
- Do you trust the applicant with your personal property?
4. INTERVIEW THE APPLICANT
Finally, after you’ve reviewed the applicant’s history, spoken with previous landlords, and are confident that he or she may make a suitable tenant, set up a time to speak with the applicant to conduct a brief interview. During this time, you can ask the applicant some more specific questions about his or her lifestyle, such as the following:
- Do you expect any roommates to move in in the near future?
- Will you be purchasing renters insurance?
- Do you smoke?
Of course, make sure any questions you ask the applicant comply with the HUD Fair Housing Act.
TRUST THE BEST PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY IN SAN JOSE
If you’re still unsure of how to find the right tenants for your rental properties, we can help you! At Intempus, we’re a full-service property management firm that’s proudly been serving the San Jose area for 14 years! Our professional agents and staff work hard to protect your investment property, and take care of everything from screening new tenants to maintaining your property. Contact us today to learn more about how San Jose’s best property management company can help you!