Always Screen Your Tenant-Because This Could Happen To You

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We are in the process of finding a new tenant for one of our rental properties that we recently updated.  Just this week we had a "close call" with a tenant that reminded me how important it is to follow the process that you put in place when screening tenants.

What to Look For...

When it comes to screening tenants, I feel that we do a pretty good job.  Typically, once a person shows interest in the property- meaning they come to view it and we meet them- we give them a copy of our rental application that asks for the following information:

  • basic name and address
  • Work history
  • rental history
  • Current and past debts
  • Banking Information
  • Criminal history
  • Personal/Credit References

After the tenant completes the application we do our due diligence in calling references, pulling credit, and checking the local county website for criminal history.  This week while running a screen for a potential tenant, we were reminded of the importance of screening tenants.

Yes, this actually happened...

We showed our property this week to a man who had called and was able to come right over to view the property.  While he was there, he said that he was extremely interested and was ready to move forward right away.  Not only was he verbally ready, but he pulled out his checkbook and wrote a $1,000 check for the security deposit on the spot. While we were excited about having someone so interested in the property, I couldn't help but wonder why he was so eager to move forward.  He even stated that he wanted to move in on Friday- 3 days away- whether the property was ready or not.

Now as a rental property investor nothing makes us happier than getting eager tenants within hours or a few days of listing a property.  But the moral of this story is no matter how great a person seems or how deep their pockets seem to go, don't forego the screening process.

When we got home that night and started our screening we quickly learned some truths about this man.  While he told us he was part owner in the company he worked for.  When we called the actual owner for a reference he told us that this was not the case and they were actually going to be letting our possible tenant go in the coming weeks from his job.  Red flag #1.  Next, when we went to check the local records for criminal history, the truth came out.  He had a list of charges ranging from an expired license to petty theft and larceny.  Yikes, red flag #2, #3 and #4.

Had we not done our due diligence in screening this man and been blinded by the fact that he was able to write a check and move in just a few days, we could have had a whole lot of problems down the road.

Sooo...no matter how clean cut the person seems, how eager they are to move in, or how quick they are to write a check- always screen your tenant!

 

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