How Landlords Can Avoid Bad Tenants

When it comes to finding the right people to occupy your rental properties, all tenants are not the same. 

There are good tenants and bad tenants. How can you find the bad tenants before they cause damage to your property? How can you increase your odds of finding quality tenants every time you search?

It's all about your screening process. Tenant screening can't guarantee an exemplary tenant every time. However, you can create a process that consistently finds good, trustworthy tenants to protect your investment. 

The only thing worse than having an empty property is having a terrible tenant in your rental home. Use these tips to learn how to properly screen tenants for your Jacksonville rental property. 

Run Thorough Background Checks

Any tenant can look good on paper. Be sure you dig behind the scenes to get the full story on any potential tenant. 

To perform a complete screening, request this info from the applicant during the application process:

  • Full Legal Name
  • Social Security Number
  • All Addresses for at least the prior two years
  • Date of Birth
  • Current Employer with contact information
  • Current Landlord with contact information

The background screening should include a few critical checks. At a minimum, start with a basic credit check. 

What Can You Learn From a Credit Check?

You need to know who is living in your property and if they can afford it. 

A detailed credit check helps you confirm the identity of the applicant. This check also helps you confirm the financial history of your potential tenant. 

Look for this information in the completed credit report. Compare it to the information provided on the application completed by the prospective tenant. 

  • Applicant's Name 
  • Date of Birth 
  • Current and Past Addresses, 
  • Spouse's Name (if applicable)
  • Known Employers
  • Social Security Number

If any of this information is different than what's on the application, that's a red flag on that tenant. Be sure you dig a little deeper. 

Financial History

Depending on the agency you use to run your tenant screenings, the credit report can include additional information. 

It's a good idea to check financial information for any potential renter. Learn about the applicant's credit card accounts, bank accounts, mortgages, and other loans. You'll also see any tax liens or bankruptcies in their history. 

Confirm that they have funds to pay the security deposit and the rent amount each month. If they have a history of late payments, that could be a red flag that your monthly rent will be late, too. 

Public Records and Criminal History

It's also worth your time to review public record information and criminal history before approving a new tenant. It's up to you if you'll allow a tenant with a criminal record in your home. 

Minor offenses are worth a discussion with your applicant. More severe felony offenses like assault, burglary, or drug charges should rule out a tenant from living in your rental home. 

A criminal history report or public record report will tell you about any reported evictions or civil judgments. If a potential tenant has a history of evictions, you don't want them living in your rental property. 

Be aware that not everything shows up on a report. Use the information in screening reports to continue your investigation into accepting or excluding a potential tenant during your approval process. 

Talk with prior landlords. Ask if they would rent to this tenant again. A bad tenant that is consistently late with payments and left their last rental home in bad shape—but was never evicted—might not show that kind of information on a report. 

Comply With the Laws

Choose the right agency to run your tenants screenings. Online, quick-turn credit reports and background checks might be more affordable—but they aren't always accurate. 

When checking and handling personal data, you must work within the laws. Use an FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) compliant screening partner. Be sure you comply with FCRA policies, too. 

Following the requirements for storing or discarding reports and informing applicants about what is disclosed in the reports falls under your responsibilities as a landlord. 

Before you run any reports, make sure you have documented permission from the applicant. Running background screenings without permission is illegal. 

Always Be Fair And Thorough

We know how hard it can be to understand compliance laws when choosing the best tenants for your properties. 

Be sure your screening process is the same for each applicant. Never discriminate. 

Use screening reports to learn about a potential tenant. Compare that information to your criteria for accepting tenants. Never exclude a tenant based on first impressions, disabilities, race, or the misuse of information from background screening reports. 

Protect yourself and your business. Use professional property management in Jacksonville, FL to help you navigate the rules and regulations of tenant screening. 

Green River Property Management is the best property management company in Jacksonville, FL to help you find your best tenants. Contact us today for an initial consultation!

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