Probably the most important decision you’ll make as a property owner is whom to rent to? Whom should you trust with your rental? What can be done to help ensure a reasonable return on your investment, while protecting both yourself and your property from liability, loss, and damage?
Only after you’ve advertised your rental property, and prospective tenants have begun contacting you, does the most difficult part of the rental process begins — Sarasota Tenant Selection. Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee’s informative series on rental home management answers many of your questions about being a landlord and the very important topic of Tenant Selection.
Before you find tenants who are seriously interested in your rental, and who are willing to complete an application and provide all of the necessary background information, you’ll likely need to show the property many times, over several weeks, probably at the prospective tenant’s convenience (not yours). Meeting and showing prospective tenants is a time-consuming, difficult, and sometimes dangerous task — after all, exactly who are these strangers you’re meeting alone at your property?
A common question asked regarding landlording is, “Should you require a formal, written application?” For those with experience, the answer is clear — Absolutely yes! You’ll need a completed application that provides the prospect’s basic personal information, as well as supporting documentation to verify identity and income — only then can you begin the actual tenant selection process.
(NOTE: It is wise to have an attorney review your application and selection criteria to ensure that they are in compliance with local, state, and federal fair-housing laws)
Verify Monthly Income
You need to establish that the prospective tenant has both the means and intent to pay their rent. You must actively verify the prospective tenant’s employment history and income amount (don’t just take their word on it). Obtain a copy of the prospect’s credit report from a credit-reporting agency (don’t just accept whatever they hand you). If the prospect passes the credit review, you’ll then need to check their references, criminal records, eviction records, and previous rental history — this can get very complicated and time-consuming.
Contact each of the previous landlords listed in the applicant’s history to verify that the prospect paid rent on time and properly maintained the home. As a responsible landlord, you may wish to perform a criminal history investigation to protect your property — be prepared to pay for it out of pocket if you are working on your own and have not hired a professional property manager.
As a responsible landlord, you may wish to perform an eviction history investigation to protect your property — be prepared to pay for it out of pocket if you are working on your own and have not hired a professional property manager. There is a direct correlation between failing to properly screen prospective tenants, and adverse tenant issues, which can most certainly lead to: lost income, huge repair expenses, and costly legal liability. This is one of those necessary evils that come with the territory of being a “do-it-yourself” landlord.
How to Logically Protect Yourself
Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee has trained individuals to:
- Collect all of the documentation.
- Verify the information provided in the application.
- Run and analyze credit checks.
- Evaluate criminal history reports.
- Ascertain eviction histories.
- And otherwise help to ensure that tenants have the means and intent to pay.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.