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Tenant Screening for Property Managers and Investors

February 14, 2021

Tenant Screening Solution

It’s a joy to find and lease to high-quality tenants — those with the best rental history, financial resources, payment habits, responsibility, conscientiousness, communication skills, and cooperation.

Tenant quality is the lifeblood of property managers and property investors. Good tenants make your business run smoother, reducing administration, costs, and time spent overall.

We’ve got some great tips for you to make the process more enjoyable and effective, and a list of screening services below.

Screen Tenants Well

The tenant screening process actually begins with how you write your ads to where you advertise vacancies to the questions you ask applicants.

And by conducting quality tenant screening procedures, you will ensure you’ll acquire problem-free tenants who pay their rent on time. And it lowers tenant churn.  It’s wise to consider a quality screening process that collects the right information to aid in your tenant acquisition process. Software will not do it all for you of course, so ask yourself what the screening reports should actually do for you.

What is the Goal of Tenant Screening?

In general, tenant screening is used to verify applicant’s identity, and then aid in choosing tenants who will fulfill the payment terms of the lease and who will care for your property.

Many landlords and property managers will use a process of screening out applicants by discovering characteristics that are undesirable to them or the people in the rental building.

Careful With Discrimination

If that’s you, you get yourself in hot water legally if you discriminate for reasons that the law doesn’t consider valid (even though they may be valid to you). As well, they could complain on social media.

Landlords and property managers would be wise to read the landlord and tenancy act for their province, state or country to avoid breaking the law, and thus suffering fines, court appearances, and extra required documentation. Any tenant you disqualify could turn to the courts and Federal Fair Housing Act and claim discrimination.

While big negatives or red flags are important (and applicants will sometimes exaggerate their income and fudge dates on the application), it may be more advantageous to screen-in applicants based on positives. It saves time and you can quickly review red flags that might make some unacceptable.

And these positive criteria go well beyond a good credit score, stable work and rental history without a criminal record. To optimize your property portfolio performance you need more depth of insight to ensure they will pay the rent consistently despite economic and personal problems.

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Optimizing Tenant Selection

Some of the selection process might involve evaluations of mood, body language, tone of voice, and the type of topics and questions the tenant asks.  Quality tenants are typically relaxed, greet you well and eager to know about the unit.

They also ask good questions such as who are the neighbors and what the neighborhood is like, who is the landlord, and don’t ask for a ton of concessions. They want to be sure this is a comfortable place they can live in for many years.

All the information you really need to make great tenant decisions won’t be available on paper. For instance, when you speak with their personal and work references you may get negative feedback or tone of voice that tells you something isn’t right.

You should check for lies or deception and drill down on issues you uncover. Just the process of being vigilant and asking (legally permissible) questions will get you in the right frame of mind.  Read more on the best tenant interview questions.

Tenant Screening Process

Overall, your tenant screening process should:

1. look for errors and omissions or deceitfulness
2. check for financial responsibility
3. look for personal conscientiousness and moral character
4. verify income and creditworthiness
5. check for consistent work history
6. investigate and verify self-employment financials
7. screen in the best quality sustainable tenants

Before you can conduct a tenant screening check, you’ll need to have them fill out a rental application form, and sign it to give you permission to conduct the checks.


What is Typically Included in Tenant Screening Reports?

There’s no need to include tenant background checks or credit verification checks in your property management software. There are services such as and who provide these reports inexpensively. You can require the tenant to buy the report on themselves.

Background checks, criminal record and credit rating checks are primarily what is covered by their tenant screening service. Please keep in mind that these checks are just the basics of tenant screening, and that the rest is performed by you, or your landlord or property manager.

To help you do the best screening, you’ll want a service that offers any of these 5 services:

  • consumer credit report (from any of Experian, Equifax or Transunion)
  • eviction records search
  • criminal records search
  • sex offender registry search
  • employment verifications

Take a look at a sample report.

Now that you have your basic reports, it’s time to reassess your liabilities in renting out the unit. If the tenant can’t pay their rent, what will happen to your cash flow and financial commitments? Do you know how to evict a bad tenant? Do you have insurance to cover damage they might do? What kind of damage might they do while living in the home?

Here are a few tenant screening services to consider:


The above should provide more motivation to take your time with your tenant screening process and look more deeply at the positives, while keeping an eye for red flags.

Check out a variety of landlord apps that includes some good tenant screening software.

With all the administration you have to do, it will be nice to have a tenant who likes online solutions. An online property management software can automate a lot of your workload.


See also: Software for Rental Property | Property Accounting Software | How to Attract a Good Tenant | Sources of Good Tenants | Why do Good Tenants Leave? | Reduce Tenant Churn | How to Choose Great TenantsHow to Write Ads to Attract Tenants | Screen Tenants with Social Media | Tenant Onboarding | Rental Listings | What Tenants Want | How to Keep Good Tenants | Keep Work from Home Tenants | How to Get them to Renew their Leases |  Credit Checks for TenantsHow to be a Good Tenant | Best Landlord Software | Landlord App

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