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As a property manager, you are bound to encounter good tenants and bad tenants. There is no perfect screening method, but there are several factors you can take into consideration when finding a tenant for your rental.

  1. Obey the Law

All your prospective tenants should be treated equally. The Federal Fair Housing Act was created to prevent any discrimination against people regarding their race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.

2. Good Credit is a Must

You will want to have a tenant who is financially responsible and able to pay their bills on time. An income and credit check is a normal request that almost all landlords make before approving a tenant.

3. File for a Criminal Background Check

To perform a criminal background check, you only need your tenant’s name and date of birth. The check will show any offenses from serious to minor. Keep in mind that some states don’t allow landlords to discriminate against criminal convictions.

4. Examine Tenant’s Rental History
If you can, try talking to at least two past landlords of the tenant. It’s important to ask questions like, “Did the tenant pay their rent on time?”, “What was the reason for the move?” or “Did they complain often?”.
First-time renters may not have a rental history but you can always require a co-signer on the lease.

5. Look Stability in a Tenant

Look at the tenant’s application form and view their past addresses and employment history. If you notice they move around frequently, you can expect to have a vacancy after their lease is up. If you notice they have had a hard time holding down a job, the may not be able to afford rent later down the road.

6. No More Than 2 people per Room

More people in one place mean more nouse and more wear and tear on the rental property.  The more people per apartment, the more noise and the greater the wear and tear on your investment. The Housing and Urban Development does not have specific rules regarding how many people you have per room bedroom, and the rule is generally accepted under the Fair Housing Act.

7. Trust Your Instincts

At the end of the day, you need to follow your gut instinct. If you don’t feel good about a prospective tenant, don’t accept them just to fill a vacant rental.