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Myths About Tenant Screening You Should Know

The top priority for any landlord is finding good tenants for their residential rental properties. Bad tenants can be costly for landlords due to unpaid rent, property damage, and eviction fees. Alternatively, the ideal tenant is respectful, follows the rules, and pays their rent on time each month. The tenant screening process helps landlords select the right tenant for their property. However, it is essential to remember that there are many common tenant screening myths circulating. 

As a landlord, it’s critical to avoid falling into the trap of misinformation or myths that could negatively impact your business. As a landlord, it is essential to vet every applicant before signing the lease agreement. Over 95% of landlords agree that implementing a thorough screening process helps them find higher-quality tenants. The more detailed your applicant information, the easier it will be to attract quality tenants.

Tenant Screening Myths 

A successful screening process requires several crucial steps. Without them, finding tenants that respect your property and pay rent on time can be more difficult. Landlords must follow the rules in each tenant screening step for every applicant that applies to be a tenant.

The tenant screening aims to find good tenants; however, the process of thoroughly screening applicants can be overwhelming. This article delves into the most common tenant screening myths.

Timely Rent Payment is the Only Thing that Matters

Finding a tenant who pays their rent on time is critical. However, finding the best tenant for your property is more than just paying rent on time. Characteristics to look for in prospective tenants include professionalism, dependability, and a friendly attitude. As a result, request a thorough rental history, credit checks, and employment information.

Unfortunately, you can’t always identify these traits in someone in a first meeting. Still, if you have a thorough screening process, you’ll be armed with the information you need to make an educated decision on prospective tenants.

You Can Deny an Applicant if They do not Have an SSN

You must have an SSN or Tax ID to obtain a credit report for a prospective tenant. However, some individuals may not have one. For example, individuals who are only in the United States for a short time, such as those on a work visa or foreign exchange students, will not have a social security number.

Because of this, you will have some applicants that are unable to obtain a credit report. When this occurs, it is critical to have alternative methods of screening. For example, suppose you reject an application solely because an applicant is unable to authorize screening reports. In that case, you may be in violation of the  Fair Housing laws and Landlord-tenant laws in your state. 

tenant screening

You Cannot Deny an Applicant for Being in the United States Illegally

The Federal Fair Housing Act states that you have the right, as a landlord or property manager, to request proof of citizenship from a potential tenant. You can obtain this information with an I-9 Form. You can download the I-9 by visiting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services online. 

Understanding that you cannot be selective about who you request this documentation from is crucial. By law, you must request the information from every prospective tenant, if you request it at all. The criteria and landlord-tenant laws differ depending on the city or state, so verify the laws before proceeding.

Small Pets Don’t Cause Problems

Your prospective tenant may have a pet who meets the criteria you have set. However, regardless of the size, any pet a tenant has can create unexpected problems. They can still leave stains, scratch woodwork, walls, and floors, and bark all day and night, eventually becoming a nuisance in terms of happy neighbors. Although the pet may be small, and you are trying to work with the potential tenant’s situation, weigh all of the factors before determining whether or not to allow pets of any size in your rental properties.

tenant screening pet policy

A Good Credit Score Means a Great Tenant

Credit scores are important indicators of a potential tenant’s history and habits for how they pay their bills. FICO (the Fair Isaac Corporation) is a credit scoring model meant to provide lenders with information. Scores can range from as low as 250 to 900; however, generally, you will see scores from 300 to 850. When renting your property, you should look for a score in the “Good” range. However, even if your prospective tenant has a perfect credit score, that does not mean they will be a good tenant. 

  • Exceptional: 800 to 850
  • Very Good: 740 to 799
  • Good: 670 to 739
  • Fair: 580 to 669
  • Poor: 300 to 579

Timely bill payment is crucial; however, having an in-person meeting is critical to obtain a sense of your potential renter’s disposition. 

The Landlord Always Pays for Credit Checks

When it comes to landlord-tenant law, it is at the discretion of the landlord as to whether they charge a fee to perform a credit check, In most states. The fee generally covers the credit check and the cost of time and effort. This fee is typically between $30 and $50. In addition, some states, such as California, impose a maximum screening fee, which is around $35 per prospective applicant.

credit score

You Must Accept the Applicant’s Credit Report if They Provide One

If a prospective renter on the search applies for multiple properties, more than likely, they will want to avoid incurring the costs associated with each request for a credit report from a landlord. Applicants can obtain a credit report and present it to the landlord; however, depending on the laws in the state, the landlord does not have to accept it. 

You Can Tell by the Way Someone Looks if They Will be a Good Tenant

It is unlawful to discriminate in any way against a prospective tenant. If you run a credit check or background check on one applicant, you must run those same checks on every applicant. Additionally, you are not allowed to impose a higher rent on tenants based on age, gender, ethnicity, or any other protected class. Therefore, if you screen one applicant, follow the same

tenancy discrimination

Let Us Handle the Tenant Screening Process for You

The tenant screening process is a crucial step for every landlord when renting property. After all, the goal is to find a tenant that is responsible, pays timely, follows the rules, and is respectful to your property and neighbors. At Real Property Management Consultants, we take the stress out of finding the right tenants for your properties by handling the screening process for you. Do you have questions on how we can help you with your residential rental properties? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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