Screening tenants in Greater Washington DC Area, VA, MD and District of Columbia is one of the most important tasks you will have as a landlord. Learn about what to watch out for in our latest post!
When choosing who you want to live in your house, the process can be overwhelming. Someone may look great on paper but be the opposite in person and vice versa. A great landlord will leave no stone unturned in learning about potential tenants. Below, are a few things you should look out for during the screening process.
While most people will be fairly honest on their rental applications, there are those who will forge a reference, giving inaccurate information. Maybe they will give you a friend’s number, having that person pose as a former landlord or boss. Or worse yet, maybe they will have a friend who is a business owner say you worked for them, when in fact they never did. Lying on your application is illegal, but that doesn’t stop people who are desperate to move in. If you have any suspicion about your potential tenant’s references, don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper.
Catching A Falsehood
Catching a falsehood on an application, such as inaccurate references mentioned above, should be a huge red flag. If you discover someone is lying about their income, employment, or past living situations, you need to ask yourself why. And if they are lying on the application, what else are they going to start lying to you about?
Bad situations happen to everyone no matter who you are. However, letting someone move in who may not be able to pay rent should be avoided at all costs. Someone can be a great person and a great tenant, but they still carry an eviction on their record. If you are thinking about renting to someone with a prior eviction, make sure to get all the details surrounding the situation. Sometimes these things are related to circumstance, not responsibility. That said, consider a past eviction a huge red flag that should be looked into further.
If someone has changed jobs a lot, it is likely something you will need to ask some questions about. People who have a hard time holding down a job may not be able to make their rent payments on time each month. Changing jobs by choice is ok, but if someone can’t keep a job, you might want to move on to the next application if you are looking for a potential long-term tenant, someone who bounces around with their employment, may not be ready to look for a living situation that will be long-term.
There are a number of things that can affect someone’s credit. You should have a minimum credit score that you’ll accept, and if someone’s credit is questionable, look at what got them into the situation in the first place. Some people have damaged credit due to an ex or even a parent. Or maybe they are paying off medical bills or college. While a credit score can tell you a lot about someone, it won’t tell you everything.
Screening tenants is one of the most important tasks that a landlord has to do. While it may seem cumbersome to dig up all the details on your potential tenant, doing so will help to ensure you are not bringing someone into the house that will damage the property or fail to pay rent on time each month.