Having the right tenants in your property can truly make a huge difference in your ability to succeed in owning investment rental property. While problem renters can definitely exhibit some warning signs, there are some problem renters who are quite adept at getting past landlords. As a result, it is important to understand that you simply cannot always rely on your first impression of a prospective tenant in order to determine whether they will be responsible and reliable.
There are some tips you can use; however, in order to avoid tenants which could prove to be difficult.
First, always have prospective tenants complete a rental application. The application should be in writing and should provide you with the information you need to make a decision regarding renting the property. Along those lines; however, you need to make sure that you always follow laws, such as the Fair Housing Act. Discriminating against prospective renters is against the law and could land you in quite a bit of trouble. You are not allowed to deny someone the ability to rent your property based on religion, race, etc. By following the Fair Housing Act, you can make sure that you do not violate any discrimination laws.
Always make sure that you obtain proof of identity. This includes seeing a photo identification from any prospective tenants that you interview. On the rental application you have prospective tenants complete, make sure they write down their driver license information. Make a copy of the photo ID and be certain that you attach it to the rental application.
Many landlords make the mistake of not performing a background check. This is a mistake that you cannot afford to make if you want to ensure that you avoid potentially troublesome tenants. Performing a background check gives you the opportunity to determine if there are any previous problems. For example, running a background check can let you know if a prospective tenant has a history of destroying property or skipping out on the rent.
Along with a background check, you should also perform a credit check. You will need to obtain the applicant’s permission in order to do this; however, you can do this on the rental application. You will also need to obtain the applicant’s Social Security number on the application to run a credit check.
References are also essential. Make sure that you obtain the name of the applicant’s previous landlord so you can follow-up. This is because not all landlords make a report to the authorities when there is a problem, so by checking with the landlord directly you have a better chance of determining if there were any problems.
In addition, ask for character references. Make sure that you take the time to actually check with those references. If the applicant did not give you a valid reference this is a good way to find out about it and weed out the applicant.
Finally, make sure that you include information regarding a code of conduct with each application or lease. The code of contact should state what is expected of the tenant and have the prospective tenant sign and date the document. By making sure that these expectations are clearly outlined in the beginning, you can help to avoid a number of problems.