Landlords, Here's Your "Shortcut" to Screening Tenants
Detroit is one of the largest cities in the United States, where renters now outnumber homeowners. If there are so many renters out there, why can it take weeks to find a new tenant for your Novi rental property?
You don't want just "any" tenant in your property. You might have plenty of interest in your property, but selecting the right tenant is a critical process. You might have to screen several potential tenants before you find the right one.
If you're new to being a landlord, or even if you've owned rental properties for a while, it can be frustrating when it takes too long to find your next tenant. Here's why it can take a while to find your next quality tenant, and how to get help when it seems like the clock is ticking.
Finding the Right Tenant Is a Process
Yes, you could take the first tenant to fill out the application for your property. If they spell everything correctly and seem honest and able to pay the rent, they might seem like the right choice.
However, are you sure they're the best fit for your property? What information did they leave off of their application? Finding the right tenant means digging deeper than the initial rental application.
1. Watch for Red Flags
You need a screening process that helps uncover potential red flags and critical information that can help you avoid a bad tenant.
As much as we want to believe that every applicant is honest on their application, bad tenants are very good at sneaking through screening processes to get into a rental home. It's better to keep them out of your property rather than dealing with the problems they cause after they move in. Some critical red flags to watch out for are:
- Late rent payments
- Damage to property
- Noise complaints that cause problems with neighbors
- Illegal activity
- Smoking, not cleaning up after pets, and other lease violations
Depending on the severity of the issue, bad tenants are an expensive problem. That's why it's essential to follow your screening process—every time—even if it takes a while to find your next tenant.
Never Skip a Step in Your Process
It takes patience to stick with your process, especially if you're in the middle of your first month without a tenant to pay the rent. However, you'll thank yourself later for going through each step, every time. Be sure to apply each component to every tenant!
- Develop your criteria for selecting a tenant. If you have your criteria, you're more likely to review each applicant fairly. You know what you need and want in a tenant ahead of time. Make sure you don't deviate from that documented criteria.
- Avoid evaluating based on discriminatory practices. This might seem obvious, but keeping this in mind keeps you from a lawsuit. Never choose or deny a tenant based on race, sex, disability, or other discriminatory practices outlined by the Fair Housing Act.
- Perform background screening. Check the applicant's credit history, prior rental history, current and past employment, and criminal history. Make sure your potential tenant doesn't have a track record of evictions with other properties. Your tenant should have a current job with a history of steady employment; they should be able to afford the monthly rent plus the security deposit. When it comes to credit history, be careful how you use a criminal record to approve or deny a tenant.
- Check all references. Don't spot-check references—call every reference and speak with them. Watch for discrepancies or inaccuracies between the potential tenant's application versus what references tell you.
You can see why it can take a while to find the right tenant for your Novi rental property. Once you develop a thorough process, screening an applicant can go more quickly. However, it can still take some time to find the next tenant who makes it through your screening processes and meets your criteria.
Now for the Shortcut!
There is only one acceptable shortcut to screening tenants: hire a property manager to do it for you! When it's critical to find a new tenant quickly, your Novi property management expert is prepared to do this with speed, skill, and accuracy.
Make sure you choose a property manager that offers a Guaranteed Rent program! JMZ property management offers this program to help relieve the financial burden of an empty rental property for our Novi property owners. While our screening process is thorough and efficient, we know it can take a while to find the next perfect tenant.
If it takes more than 30 days for us to find said tenant, we manage your property for free—for three months. Even with an empty property for a short time, you'll have the best property management team working for you—and your success. Start today with our FREE Rental Analysis!