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Beyond Credit Scores: Tenant Screening Policies that Work 

By Jessica Galeano

Beyond Credit Scores Tenant Screening Policies that Work.pngMany property managers today rely solely on a prospective tenant’s credit score to determine suitability. Unfortunately, most learn the hard way that this practice often comes back to bite them in the long run. At the end of the day, a person’s credit score is just a number and it doesn’t necessarily reflect other important factors, such as how they behave behind closed doors. And since this individual is going to potentially be living in the property you manage, that last part is pretty important. Let’s take a look at a few tenant screening policies that will help you better assess a prospect’s rent-worthiness.

Verify Income

Thanks to the economic crash that occurred several years ago, many hard working people saw their credit scores steadily decline. That didn’t mean they were suddenly no longer quality tenants, as many of them still had good jobs. For this reason, property managers would be wise to look further than the numbers on a paper and consider someone who may not have perfect credit, but has a verifiable, steady source of income and can comfortably afford the proposed rent.

Run a Background Check

A person may have perfect credit but also have a history of criminal behavior, such as domestic abuse, destruction of property or writing bad checks. That’s why property managers need to dig deeper and uncover the truth so they can carefully weed out those candidates who pose a risk if rented to. Get permission to run a complete background check on everyone who will be living at the property and include this as part of your tenant screening process.

Check Social Media

You can tell a lot from a person’s social media profiles, which is why a lot of property managers are now taking to sites like Facebook and Instagram to get a better idea of who they might potentially be renting to. Verify that who they say they are on their application is truly accurate. For instance, does the info they provided about their employment or residence history ring true? Is there evidence that they or their friends engage in criminal behavior? Know what signs to watch for.

Contact at Least 2 Prior Landlords

Keep in mind that a prospect’s current landlord may provide a glowing review just to get them out of their property. For instance, if the tenant is chronically late with rent, destructive of property or the subject of regular complaints from other residents, the current landlord has pretty good reason to be untruthful in their assessment. That’s why you should always ask for at least one other landlord as a reference. Someone who no longer rents to them would be much more likely to provide an unbiased and truthful response.

The goal with every vacant property is to get a qualified, long-term tenant that will pay rent on time, take care of the property and live peacefully amongst their neighbors. That’s why it’s wise for property managers to go beyond basic credit scores and employ tenant screening strategies that dig deeper and get more accurate results. 

Tagged Tips, Social Media, Property Management, Blog, Technology

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