By John Nuzzolese
One of the essential abilities a landlord needs in tenant screening is the ability to spot potential problems and disqualify prospective tenants as early in the screening process as possible. This can be a difficult process for many landlords, but after hundreds of rentals and years of trial and error experience you develop an evaluation system and a preference of what works best for you in your rentals.
Below, I'll share with you my 15 reasons I would prefer not to engage in a rental with certain interested rental prospects.
1. I require a few pre-screening questions in my ad. If the prospect can't answer a simple request like that, they're history.
The questions are not invasive and are very easy to answer. Click here for my Pre-screening Tenant Prospect Card.
2. I usually do not consider tenants who have pets.
My landlord mentor, Nick Koon used to say "No dog ever improved a rental property", and boy was he right! If I do consider accepting a pet, and it is a great tenant- I mean a really GREAT tenant that you really want and they have a dog, before making up your mind, go see the place they are coming from first. I look at the yard. How does the home smell? Then I decide.
To help enforce our No Smoking policy, we use the No Smoking Notice & Reminder
3. I usually do not consider tenants who smoke.
When tenants do smoke, to help enforce our No Smoking policy, we use the No Smoking Notice & Reminder
4. I disqualify prospects who have bad credit.
If they are honest on the pre-screening prospect card, and tell us they have bad credit, it saves them and us a lot of time. For promising prospects, we get our credit checks from our own Quick Check Credit Reports!
5. I disqualify prospects who are late for their appointment without calling with a good reason.
If they can't even make their first meeting with you as agreed, what can you expect in the future from them? Jeez!
6. I will not accept a deposit without a fully completed application authorizing a credit check.
The LPA Rental Application when completed and signed by the applicant provides authorization to verify credit, employment and any other financial qualifying factors in connection with the rental. Serious qualified prospects are more than happy to share their good story with you.
7. I disqualify prospects who can't prove they have a dependable income adequate to easily pay the rent.
Let's not play games. Can they afford your place or not? Part of the screening process is to verify they actually have the means to pay the rent. That means you may have to see certain forms of proof of their income. You may need to see copies of bank statements, pay stubs, employment verification letter and sometimes income tax returns before making an approval decision.
8. I disqualify prospects who argue about authorizing a credit check.
Most tenants know that you need their written approval before being allowed to pull a credit report. If a prospect has a problem with checking his credit, what does that tell you? They may tell you they have excellent credit, but do not want unnecessary inquiries harming their credit. Unnecessary? Isn't the place they want to move into important enough for a credit check?? Their car loan is obvious important enough to them.
9. I disqualify prospects who leave their social security number or driver's license # out of the rental application.
An incomplete application is a disqualified application. It says so on the form.
10. I disqualify prospects who leave their income out of the rental application.
Was their income that private when they applied low money down for their car loan?
11. I disqualify prospects who lie on the rental application.
Lying on a rental application is a fraudulent act and a criminal offense. It should not be taken lightly. Not the kind of tenants you want to rent to, so investigate applications thoroughly before accepting tenants!
12. I disqualify prospects who are disrespectful to any of our employees
We don't want to enter into any long term relationships with jerks.
13. I disqualify prospects who have been evicted in the past.
As shocking as it may be, some tenants make evictions a way of life by living for free as long as they can going from landlord to landlord. I won't be one of their victims.
14. I disqualify prospects who have had a bankruptcy within the last 10 years
How afraid do think a tenant who has been through bankruptcy will be if I threaten to damage their credit if they don't pay the rent? Yes, they will laugh at me (on the inside).
15. I disqualify prospects who argue about anything.
I don't like to argue.
Everyone's situation is different, just as rentals are also different. You may be a smoker or a serious dog or cat lover and prefer tenants who smoke and have pets. That's for you to decide. I hope some of these ideas will be found helpful in your tenant screening!