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How To Screen Tenants


Your residential property is ready for occupancy. It’s time to start the process of selecting your first, or perhaps your next, renter. A property is an investment, so it is crucial that your tenant take care of your investment and pay their rent on schedule. A careful screening will help with the vetting process so that you can make an informed decision about a tenant who applies.


Before starting the screening process, it is important to be familiar with federal Fair Housing laws, as well as any additional laws that may vary by state. A landlord is prohibited from discriminating against 7 protected areas:

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • Family status


Prescreening Process


If you will be advertising your rental, it will help to be as forthcoming as possible in order to prevent wasted time on both sides. In advertising, describe your rental as realistically as you can. State any policies you intend to enforce, such as no smoking. Let prospective renters know if you intend to check criminal and credit records. Be clear about the amount of security deposit required as well as the monthly rental fee. If you are taking initial inquiries over the phone, have a list of questions ready that you would ask. Here are some ideas:

  • What move-in date are you seeking?
  • How many people will be moving in?
  • Do you have any pets? (Decide on your pet policy ahead of time!)
  • What is your monthly income?
  • Have you ever broken a rental agreement or been evicted?


Application and Info Gathering Process


Prepare a rental application. You will need information on anyone age 18 or older who will be living in the house, even if they all are not signing the lease, so that there are no surprises down the road involving your tenants. You will want to know about their previous addresses and get contact information for previous landlords. After you have obtained written consent, you can use outside services to gather the credit history, eviction history, and criminal history. 


Call all the references they have listed on the application, and have a conversation with any past landlords as well. Equip yourself with as much information as possible, so that you can feel confident that your new tenant will both take care of your investment and pay the rent. 


If you would prefer to let a property management company handle the tenant screenings and occupancy of your properties, you can have full confidence that Talley Properties has the expertise and experience to partner with you. 

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