Buffalo Landlords: Minimize Risk by Screening Prospective Tenants
As a landlord, it’s often difficult to find that dream tenant. You know, the one who pays their rent on time, doesn’t smoke, keeps the apartment clean, doesn’t overload the laundry machines, and doesn’t break the lease contract.
While never having vacancies in a building is a great goal to have, it’s an even better goal to make sure that you rent properties out to the right tenant. Screening prospecting tenants can minimize risk and your cost for liability as a landlord.
Here are some screening tips to find the right tenant:
Tip #1: Be upfront at first contact
Once you’ve contacted the potential tenant, the screening process has begun. Always be up front and honest about the rent and security deposit requirements and any other important facts regarding the rental that may disqualify the prospect. This can save you a lot of time that may be spent showing and discussing a property to a tenant that isn’t right.
Here are some questions to ask:
- What’s your reason for moving?
- How long will you be living in the area?
- Do you have any pets?
- Are you a smoker?
- When are you looking to move in?
- How many people will be living in the unit?
Tip #2: Show the property and look for warning signs
As a landlord, be aware of certain telltale signs while evaluating prospective tenants. Here are some things to look for:
- Appearance: Is the prospect neat and clean? Are they making an attempt to make a good impression? In most cases, an unkempt person keeps a less than neat lifestyle.
- Car: Although we can’t judge people by their car, take note of whether or not it is clean.
- Attitude: Is the prospect respectful? Do you see any red flags that show he or she may be difficult to deal with in the future?
- Timing: Is the prospect able to make the decision now or will they have to think about it? Did they come with a deposit and ready to fill out an application?
Tip #3: The application process
Always let the applicant know that his or her application with be considered along with an entire group of applicants and that you will notify the applicant once a decision has been made. Review their application looking for inconsistencies and any “red flags.”
Tip #4: The approval and final screening test
Always congratulate the applicant on being approved and let them know they came out on top of all the other applicants. This part of the process is also an opportunity for you to make sure the applicant will sign the lease after all. Set a time and place for your lease signing. Instruct the applicant to bring the proper amounts of monies, identification (if you don't already have it), and how you prefer to be paid. Always let them know that keys won’t be given until after the check has cleared.
Tip #5: Read the lease together
As a landlord, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that many people just sign the lease without reading it. Take the time to read the entire lease with the new tenant. As you read the lease agreement, you can conduct your final step of screening the tenant--do they agree to every item? If you are unhappy with how the prospect responds to the lease, do not lease to this person.
Finding the right tenant
With the right screening process, you can eliminate the wrong prospective tenants for your property. It’s important to be upfront and honest throughout the entire process; just like you expect the potential tenant to be upfront and honest with you. The goal is to have the right tenant, not just any tenant.
How do you screen your tenants? With the right screening process, backed by the right insurance coverage in place, you're doing all the necessary steps to minimize your risk as a landlord. Talk to your local insurance agent (844) 837-2869 for more information about the landlord insurance coverage that is right for you.