Screening Tenants Rental Property
This is your most important process. You want to get the best tenant for your property. You will get a set of applicants based on several criteria.
First is how wide a search you are performing. Are you only advertising with a sign outside of the property? This is a very narrow search focus, you may get lucky, but most of the applicants are trying to fly under the wire hoping you will not perform a through background check or better yet none at all. Your best bet is to use a MSL listing even if you have to pay a real estate agent a commission. You will get a better selection of applicants.
Your property location will determine the quality of applicant you get. Is it in a good or bad section of town? Some of this will be out of your control. The best you can do is to keep your properties curb appeal attractive and the inside updated and immaculate.
It is up to you to make the final decision on who will occupy your property. It is o.k. to meet with them, it may give you a better feeling. Also income is very important but may not be the only variable; you may want a young family in your property over a single professional. Ideally 30-40 % of the income should cover the rent, in some cases you may need to extend this if your applicants are coming in with lower income.
Make sure your rents are realistic not too high or too low. Use the rent valuation tool to give you a ballpark rental rate. Also talk to real estate agents to get an idea what the rent should go for in your area considering the size and number of bedrooms you have.
It is recommended to always perform a background check. If you are using a realtor ask them to perform one. If you are doing the screening yourself it is still recommended to do a background check, this will give you a clear picture of the persons you will be allowing to live in your property. If they have had a eviction in the past this is a red flag, if they have a good reason for the eviction you may still want to consider them, it is better you know this information up front. Find a service that will perform the check and charge the applicant it is a non-refundable fee.
If you are not using a realtor you can get a standard lease agreement at your local office supply store, if you are using a realtor they will handle the drawing up the lease agreement.
Consider section 8 applicants the rents will be payed directly from the government to your checking account. You will have to pass an inspection by the local government but if you are keeping your property maintained this should not be a problem.
Consider whether you want to allow pets and how many and what size. You may want to limit to 1 dog, or 1 dog and a cat, or none at all. This is really your preference. If you do allow pets collect a non-refundable cleaning fee (usually $100-$150 dollars).
Market conditions will determine how much money you take up front. Always ask for the max (i.e. first, last and security). You will need a security deposit just in case there is they have damaged the property prior to moving out. Always insist on at least a first and security, it is your digression on weather you demand the last month too.
Get the best tenant you can, it is time consuming and costly to remove a tenant.