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Top Tips on DIY Tenant Screening

If you are an experienced property manager, you will know that, well, it’s hard. While sometimes you will get a nice break from fixing toilets, leaking faucets and tenant disputes between each other, most of the time managing properties can be a full-time job. However, if done correctly a well-managed Las Vegas rental property can be a lucrative investment.

The only time that your rental property investment doesn’t make you money, however, is when it’s empty. Without rent paying tenants you are at the very least losing money on property taxes, utilities, and property upkeep. If you have a mortgage on your rental property as well then you are losing serious money.

The second worse thing than having no tenants is having bad ones. Bad tenants will move in and immediately start to trash the place, costing you money in repairs, not pay rent, and then just move out. Then instead of having no tenants you have a trashed property and no tenants. This is why in today’s post we give some of the top DIY tenant screening tips.

  1. Ask Questions Before Screening

One common mistake that landlords will make is to immediately schedule a showing with anyone that calls. There are many different reasons that a tenant will not be right for your rental and if you are wasting time showing your property to tenants cannot afford, or do not qualify, you will have less time marketing your rental. Here are just a few questions you can ask on the initial phone call to avoid these situations.

  • What is your current living situation?
  • Is there a specific timeframe for your move? If so, when?
  • Are you employed and what kind of income do you have?
  • Do you have pets, or do you smoke?
  • Do you have any previous evictions?

  1. During the Viewing

After you have gone over the pre-screening questions during the initial phone conversation, it will be time to schedule a viewing of the property.  Showing the property isn’t just about getting to show the prospective tenants your rental. This is also a good opportunity to get a better understanding of just who the prospective tenants are.

First you want to discuss the rent, security deposit and lease terms while you show the property. If they are enthusiastic about the showing after that conversation it shows you that they should be able to easily afford the rent, which is a good sign.

During the showing it is also a good idea to bring up their jobs. You can casually ask what they do to get a good idea of what their jobs are and how long they have been working them. If you get unspecific answers to this question, then you know that you should pay attention to their employment verifications.

  1. Do Your Research

Outside of the traditional background and rental history check, you would be surprised about how much information you can find about a person with just a few searches on the internet. This is a great way to corroborate what they have told you so far. The best way is to simply search for their names on google.

If you find little or nothing on Google, other online platforms will likely have more information. You can try Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Chances are you will find something on one of these social media sites that will give you the information that you are looking for. Doing this research will allow you to make sure that they haven’t lied to you about their jobs.

  1. Get and Call Landlord References

One of the best ways to screen your prospective tenants is to call their past landlords. Be wary of people who are giving you their friends name and phone number so that they can pretend to be a landlord to give a good reference. The best way to ensure that they are an actual landlord is to ask them what the start and end dates of the lease was. Then cross-reference this with the tenant’s application. You can also look up the landlord on the internet.

After you have verified the landlord, ask the following:

  • Were the tenants ever late paying their rent?
  • Were there any landlord/tenant disputes that occurred?
  • Were there any tenant/tenant disputes?
  • Were there any noise complaints recorded against the prospective tenants?
  • Were there any lawsuits filed against the landlord by the tenants, or did they ever threaten to sue?
  • Would the landlord ever consider renting to them again?

  1. DIY Tenant Screening Report

After you have followed the above steps, its time to get to the nitty gritty of the DIY tenant screening process. We have found that the best online service is offered is called SmartMove from the credit reporting bureau Transunion. This service will send the potential tenant an application that they fill out, and then it performs a background check, criminal history check, as well as looks for previous evictions and provides income information. There are other tenant screening services out there. Feel free to find one that matches your business.