The best tenants for your St. Louis rental property are people who can be relied upon to pay their rent on time, take good care of your investment, and follow the terms of the lease agreement. Hopefully, you’ll find residents who communicate easily and clearly and plan to stay in the property for at least a few years. You want stability and responsibility.
Finding those tenants should not be complicated, but sometimes it can seem like a guessing game. Don’t trust your instincts or offer your rental property to someone who “seems nice.” Instead, adopt a thorough and consistent tenant screening process that will help you find someone well-qualified.
Today, we’re sharing some things to include in your tenant screening process.
Check Credit and Criminal History
One of the most common things for landlords to check is a credit score. Certainly, the score is important, but we recommend you evaluate the entire credit history of your applicant. Look for things that would indicate a problem such as overdue or unpaid utility bills or judgments and outstanding debts that are owed to former landlords, property managers, or apartment buildings. When performing a background check, investigate any past evictions and make sure it’s a nationwide check.
You’ll also want to look at a prospective tenant’s criminal history. You don’t necessarily want to reject someone who has a speeding ticket, but any indication that there have been violent convictions or drug charges in the recent past might give you pause.
Verify Income and Employment
Your screening process must also include verifying income. You want to make sure your tenants can afford the rent. Standard best practices say that your tenant should earn at least three times the monthly rent. So, if your property rents for $1,000 per month, you’ll want an income that’s at least $3,000 per month. Verify the employment that’s listed on the application and ask for proof. You can collect pay stubs from people who have jobs, and you can ask for tax forms and bank statements from anyone who is self-employed or retired.
Landlords in 2020 and moving forward should be very cautious about falling into the trap of income discrimination as they will no longer be allowed to use a tenant’s source of income to make rental decisions. Remember Government Assistance such as SSI and Section 8 are considered income sources. This makes it all the more important to have a Professional such as AMOSO properties assisting you.
Take a Look at Rental History
Talk to former and current landlords. This is one of the best ways to find out how a tenant has performed in the past. You can ask if rent was paid on time and if any damage was left behind. Ask the landlord if the tenant was entitled to a full security deposit refund and whether the appropriate amount of notice was given before the tenant moved out. You can also ask about pets and communication.
When you’re screening your St. Louis tenants, you have to make sure you are following all fair housing guidelines. Treat each application consistently by establishing a documented procedure. Put your rental criteria in writing and offer it to applicants before they fill out the application and pay the application fee. With all of this documentation, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you follow your process every time and treat each applicant fairly.
Tenant screening can be daunting. If you need any help, contact us at AMOSO Properties. We effectively lease St. Louis rental homes every day, and we’d be happy to work with you.