Renting out one of your most valuable assets, your home, can be pretty daunting. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a property to become a homeowner, the last thing you want is an unruly tenant to occupy your rental space. Late payments, illegal activity, property damage—these are just some of the scenarios you may find yourself in as a landlord.
To prevent situations like these from arising, you want to make sure you take the necessary steps to find the perfect tenant. Read below to find out the steps you should take to keep your property in good hands.
1. Use a real estate agent
Real estate agents can be extremely beneficial when it comes to finding tenants for your property. Real estate agents have a wide array of tools and resources they can use to help market your property to find trustworthy renters. With access to the Multiple Listing Service, a real estate agent will be able to post your property for other agents to see. Local realtors will then be able to reach out and let your real estate agent know they have a client who may be a good fit.
If you don’t have time to meet potential tenants or don’t feel comfortable meeting with prospective renters, a real estate agent will solve those issues. Your agent will be the primary point of contact and will deal with all communication and schedule appointments.
2. Conduct a background check
Another way to ensure you’re putting a reliable and trustworthy tenant in your property is by conducting a background check. A background check can provide you with extremely useful information, such as a tenant credit check to review their credit history, and a criminal background check to see if they have any alarming convictions. The last thing you want is a renter with poor credit score and a history of late or missing payments. This could mean you could miss out on collecting rent, which can make it difficult to pay off your mortgage, and you’ll have to deal with the arduous process of eviction.
Background checks can provide you with other information as well, including:
- National sex offender registry
- Education history
- Previous and current addresses
- Employment history
3. Host an interview
A renter may look good on paper, but you can never truly gauge a person until you meet them face-to-face. As you begin receiving applications for your property listing, set up meetings to conduct an interview. If meeting in person isn’t possible because the applicant lives far away, you can also conduct a phone interview.
Interviewing potential renters is a great way for you to better understand their situation, why they’re looking for a new place to live, their financial history, and more. Some questions to ask in your interview include:
- Do you have any pets?
- When do you plan on moving in?
- Do you smoke?
- How long have you lived at your current address?
- How many roommates do you have?
- What is your monthly income?
- How many parking spaces would you need?
- Do you think your current landlord would give you a positive reference?
- Have you ever been evicted?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
- Are there any issues or concerns you’d like to tell me before I conduct a background screening?
4. Abide by the law
To make this process as smooth as possible, you want to make sure you abide by the law at all times. Yes, there are laws put in place for landlords to ensure they’re providing fair opportunities to all people, regardless of background and race. Failing to do so can land you in legal trouble, which can be costly and time consuming.
The Federal Fair Housing Act was put in place to prevent discrimination against certain classes of renters. This means you cannot discriminate based on:
- National origin
- Families with children
- Sexual orientation
5. Trust your first instinct
Lastly, trust your gut feeling! More often than not, your first instinct can tell a lot about a person. If you feel uneasy or if a tenant may be lying, remove them from the applicant pool. Sure, it’s important to trust your screening and other preventative measures, but your gut instinct should also carry some weight. You don’t want to approve a renter just to find out they were faking their identity.
The bottom line
Finding the perfect tenant can be hard work. However, by implementing these tips, such as conducting a background check and hosting interviews, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you found a renter who will treat your property with respect, pay their rent on time, and be an overall excellent tenant.