In this economy you have to screen your tenants!

As everyone knows the economy is drastically effecting the economy and cash flow.  But now is not the time to cut back on costs associated with proper property mangement practices.  I like to think of my property mangement practicies like Goldlocks and the 3 Bears.

If your expectations are too high (too hot!) you may limit yourself from finding qualified tenants for a vacancy.

If your expectations are too low (too cold!) or vague you may find plenty of tenants but the quality of those tenants will most likely be poor.

If your expectations are reasonable (mmm…just right!) your property mangement practicies will assist in protecting your investment and keeping your cash flow, well, flowing.

One of these good property mangement practices is getting in the habit of doing a thorough background check on a prospective tenant.  Tenant screening background checks are important and the reports included in them can vary.  Generally a tenant screening background check or tenant screening report will consist of the prospective tenant’s credit report or credit history, rental history, and any criminal activity.

Right now many tenant screening providers provide 2 different options to access tenant screening credit reports.  The first option is to receive a rental recommendation based on the prospective tenant’s credit report.  The second is to make your own decision by examining the credit report yourself.

For the first option, a rental recommendation based on the prospective tenant’s credit report, is an extremely valuable and quick way to decide if a tenant is “move in ready”.  The tenant screening provider will run the credit report and provide you with an instant decision based on the applicant’s credit. 

The second option requires a onsite or physical inspection.  Its more work on your part and costs more money.  While it does allow you to make your own decision, I’m not convinced it’s all that necessary. 

When selecting a tenant screening provider make sure they have an assortment of reports to choose from, like:

  • A Credit Report Decision or Credit Report
  • Criminal History
  • Statewide Criminal History
  • Nationwide Criminal History
  • Countywide Criminal History
  • Telecheck – a great source to check if a tenant wrote a bad check
  • Sex Offender Searches
  • Eviction History – I almost forgot that one!  Checking the Eviction history of your tenant is very important!!!
  • SSN History – this will provide you with all addresses associated with the Social Security Number.  It can be really helpful with evaluating some of the reports above
  • Fraud Checks
  • and many more

In addition to running the above reports for a reputable tenant screening provider, you’ll also want to obtain documenation from the prospective tenant.  Not only are these documents great for the tenant screening process but they will help in the recovery your money should the tenant skip out owing you money!  So keep these in mind:

  • Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card
  • United States Passport
  • United States Birth Certificate
  • United States Military Identification Card
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Permenant Resident Card
  • Foreign Passport with United States Visa and valid I-94 form
  • United States Military Discharge or Separation Documentation
  • Medical Insurance Identification Card
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Divorce Decrees
  • Concealed Weapons Permit
  • Employee Identification Badge (with photo!)

Important!  You should be viewing originals only!  Do not accept photocopies!  It’s bad enough fraudlent documents are created to trick a landlord but its even easier to create a photocopied one.  Only accept originals.

Thanks for listening!

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