The Rental Cycle of Life: Step 4 – Tenant Screening


Rental Cycle of Life Step 4 ScreeningAt Far West Property Management, we thoroughly screen every applicant, using a professional background investigation service.  We also speak personally to previous landlords, and current employers to get first-hand input as to what kind of tenants our prospects have been, and what their current financial ability is.  But we don’t stop there.  We always look for ways to cross-check and verify what they tell us.   Admittedly, there is no 100% fool-proof shield against bad behavior, but experience speaks loud and clear, that extra care and caution up front are greatly preferred over cleaning up after the lack of it later.

Tenant screening is the fourth step to rental properties in Prescott AZWhen you get one or more applications on a property, be selective.  Never settle for a tenant who doesn’t meet or exceed your pre-determined qualifying standards.  Of course, determining how they actually measure up to your standards, is often easier said than done.  A little experience goes a long way in that endeavor.  As mentioned, employing an excellent screening service is important.  And even with that, I think it is vital to ask previous landlords key questions such as: Did they pay on time?  Did the landlord inspect the property regularly and did the tenants take excellent care of it?  Were they good neighbors?  Did they get their full security deposit back at move-out? Would the landlord rent to them again if given that opportunity?  And one other item:  we recommend that when you are given the name of a previous landlord as a reference, always check public record to confirm that that individual is actually the owner of the property.

It’s really important to establish a set of standards in advance, based on what you want to accomplish with your investment, (and on what landlord nightmares you want to avoid).  For example, what’s the minimum income someone would need in order to comfortably make the rent payments?  What’s the highest debt-to-income ratio that would safely allow that?  Will you require a solid rental history?  If so, how long?  If rental history is not an absolute requirement, what other criteria will you use to measure how trustworthy and responsible they are?  What sort of other references might you require?  Will you accept someone with a criminal record?  Will you accept pets? (Remember, under the law, service animals are not pets.)

The objective is to decide what standards will provide the level of protection and peace of mind that you want.  When you establish those standards, stand by them.  Don’t be intimidated by circumstances, into settling for less.  The cost of doing that can be, and often is, far higher than losing a month’s rent – or even two if necessary – while you firmly and patiently wait for someone who truly rises to, or even above your predetermined bar.

And, as always, if you decide, anywhere along the way, that you just don’t want, or feel equal to the responsibilities of a do-it-yourself landlord, you can always call Dave at Far West Realty, 928-772-9400. We’ll be happy to show you what we can do for you.

For more on how we can help you manage your rental properties, contact us today!