Resident Screening Tips

pen_display_accomplished_800_clr_7579Selecting residents for your properties is of crucial importance. The ideal resident is one that will stay for 2 to 3 years, pay on time every month, and not cause headaches otherwise.

The million dollar question of course, is how do you find them?

You don’t necessarily want to rush when filling a vacancy. That doesn’t mean take your sweet time, but rather be thorough in your evaluation of prospects. There is a process, and it all starts on the phone.

Here are is the engagement process for identifying prospective tenants to become the next resident for your property:

  • The Phone Call:
    1. Be polite and friendly.
    2. During the course of the conversation work in questions about length of time at present residence, why they are moving, do they own pets, and so on.
    3. Take notes. (You will want to match up their answers with the application later on).
    4. Ask disqualifying questions up front such as if they’ve ever been evicted or had a collection from a previous landlord. (Note:  If the answer is yes to either of those, there’s no point in continuing no matter what the story may be.)
  • The Showing: Assuming the first hurdle has been cleared and they are interested in renting from you, the next step is to show them the property.
    1. It’s important here to set a date and time and inform them that your time (and theirs) is valuable.
    2. If they show up late without notification, that is a big red flag. You can bet that will happen with your rent.
    3. If their appearance is unkempt… that is another flag. People that don’t take the time to make good first impressions are unreliable.
  • The Application: Every one tells a story. The question is whether it’s a fairy tale or horror story.
    1. You want a complete application. Failure to fill out anything is a red flag because it generally means they are trying to hide something.
    2. You also want to look at resident history. You are ideally seeing people that stay put for awhile. Someone that might otherwise be a great resident but moves every 12 months ensures that you will have a vacancy in 12 months as well.
    3. You are similarly looking at employment history as well. Someone that has been with the same employer is more than likely someone that will make a stable resident. People that skip around and change jobs a lot will most likely have problems with their finances, which means you won’t get paid.
      • TIP:  Make sure you are using conservative numbers with respect to income verification. Industry standards are are that you want their gross income to be 3-4 times greater than the rent on a monthly basis. Obviously, the higher, the better.

Certainly, there is more than what we’ve highlighted here, but these are good jumping off points to start with, especially if you’re renting your own units. If you plan to have them professionally managed then you definitely want to make sure you are asking these same questions to any prospective property management companies.  Want more info?  We’re here to help!

Good investing!