To conduct tenant screening like a pro, you need a set of established and standardized criteria that you use for all prospective tenants. This will help you accomplish two primary goals:
You’ll be able to select the best tenant possible for your property.
You’ll be sure you’re following all federal, state, and local fair housing laws.
Today, we’re sharing six steps that will help you meet these two goals.
Check Credit History
Check your potential tenant’s credit history. A minimum credit score of 601 ensures they have fair credit. If you’re uncomfortable with a tenant who has just fair credit and you want to kick up the minimum credit score, that’s okay. Just make sure you use the same standard for all tenants.
Check Criminal History
A tenant with no criminal history is the best. However, you may also consider someone who has a criminal past but has shown they changed their bad ways. They might demonstrate that they have been able to hold down a job for the last several years, avoid parole violations, and maybe participate in rehabilitation counseling. It’s especially important to keep in mind that a policy that denies any one with a criminal history or a felony may be considered illegal because it is believed to disproportionately impact minorities. The Washington State Attorney General’s office has prosecuted property management companies for blanket ban policies in the recent past. (Read the article here. )
Check any prospective tenant’s prior eviction history. A tenant with a prior eviction is unlikely to pay rent on time or take good care of your property. Move on from any prospects with prior evictions.
Ensure your tenant has verifiable income of at least 3 times your monthly rent. Look at pay stubs for the last two or three months.
Talk to the most recent landlord or two. Prior landlords can tell you if rent was paid on time, rules were followed, and whether the tenant left the property in good shape. A tenant that has performed well in the past will likely perform well in the future.
Talk to an Attorney
Finally, have your standardized criteria reviewed by an attorney. This will help you ensure that all local, state, and federal housing laws are followed.
If you have questions about screening tenants like a pro, or you need help with your Bellingham rental property, please contact us at Access Real Estate Services. We have been serving Bellingham and the surrounding areas since 2010.