Selecting quality tenants for your Hampton Roads rental property should be one of your top priorities as a landlord following the marketing process. You can never discount the effect of having great renters since they ensure you earn steady returns from your investment. 

Choosing the right tenants is beneficial to the property owner in multiple ways. A good tenant pays the rent on time, follows the property policies, and lives in harmony with other renters and neighbors. Thus, you must have an effective tenant screening procedure in your Hampton Roads rental unit.

A solid tenant screening system vastly reduces stress and future problems during the tenancy. It also leads to a well-maintained rental since you have a responsible tenant treating your property well.

Qualities of a Good Tenant

When looking for a new tenant, you want to find someone who has the following qualities: 

  • The ability to pay the rent on time each month
  • Steady employment
  • A good tenant history
  • A clean criminal record

Phases of a Tenant Screening

Right at the beginning, you must note your tenant criteria. What are your expectations from the renter? Design a screening process that aligns with what you’re seeking from a tenant. The following are the step you should take when screening prospective tenants:

Pre-screening Stage

If you have many prospects interested in renting your property, it’s vital to have a pre-screening process in place. It saves you a lot of time and narrows down your search for the right occupant.

property manager showing protective tenants rental policies on iPad

Here are things that help when conducting your tenant pre-screening:

  • The property listing – Make sure that it contains the renter’s requirements and details about rental policies
  • The initial interaction with a prospect –  Prepare a list of essential questions to ask them either during a preliminary meeting or the property showing

The pre-screening enables you to see potential red flags early. Rather than proceeding with a lengthy screening, you save time since unqualified tenants won’t often move forward with an application if they don’t meet baseline requirements. This is a definite advantage for you as you can protect your time by only screening qualified and interested prospects.

Submission of a Rent Application

The application form to rent at your Hampton Roads property should provide vital information from potential renters, such as:

  • Their contact information 
  • The current address of the residence
  • Name of the present landlord and contact information
  • List of former residential address with past landlords’ names and contact information
  • Current and prior employers, job title, pay, length of employment, and references with contact information
  • Authorization signed by the applicant allowing credit and background checks

This ensures that you can readily evaluate the financial health and rental history of the applicant. For example, if the prospect earns triple the rent rate, it means the capacity to pay is high. But you also need to consider whether one has steep monthly payables which can deter them from paying the full rent each month. 

two prospective tenants filling out a rental application with a property owner's help

In reality, landlords can welcome renters that don’t earn 3x the rent rate as long as the prospect has a good history of timely rent payment.

Verification of Employment 

Employment verification is necessary since you’ll know if a prospect is able to pay consistently. Some renters may input false information on the application form so taking time to contact an employer is vital. You need to ensure that you’ll be welcoming the right renter.

Contacting Former Landlords

It’s recommended to reach out to a prospect’s current and past landlords. This method allows you to learn if the potential tenant caused problems in the previous property. You’ll also learn if there’s a record of eviction, property damage resulting from abuse or neglect, or non-payment of rent dues. 

Keep in mind that the prospect’s current landlord may not tell the entire truth in a bid to remove the renter from their property. Previous landlords on the other hand can be more trusted to reveal real information.

You should also be aware of renters who ask their friends or family to act as landlords. This can easily be revealed if you book a property showing with the ‘landlord’ and evaluate their reaction before inquiring about the prospect’s rental history.

Credit and Background Checking

There’s critical information to obtain when performing a credit and background check of the prospective renters of your Hampton Roads rental property. This information includes:

  • Credit score
  • Employment status 
  • Eviction record
  • Relevant criminal history
  • Verification of tenant identity

real estate expert holding clipboard calling to verify an applicant's rental history

Aim for a credit score of 680 and above to ensure that the renter can pay off the monthly dues regularly.

Accepting or Rejecting a Prospect’s Application

The last phase of tenant screening is coming to a decision to accept or reject the prospect. If you decide to welcome the applicants, you can call or email them. You must properly inform them of the next step, which is the lease signing.

Should you decide to turn down the application, you can write or email the rejection. This puts things in black and white and protects you in the event of legal proceedings. 

It’s advisable to be aware of the Fair Housing Act to limit discrimination against a tenant. Make sure that when rejecting an application that the reasons are valid, such as an unsatisfactory credit score, inadequate income, or lack of credible references.

Bottom Line 

Tenant screening should be done properly since this can limit issues you’ll face later on, which can result to an eviction. Evictions are stressful and time-consuming so it’s best to avoid it as much as possible. 

Performing tenant screening also ensures that your property is protected and remains in wonderful condition. But not all property owners have the luxury of time to handle this lengthy procedure. If you’re one of them, you can reach out to a trusted property management company like Keyrenter Hampton Roads. 

Contact our team today for high-quality property management services from tenant screening and marketing to rent collection and property maintenance!