Finding a good tenant is probably the best thing you can do to ensure you have a pleasant and stress-free rental experience. Renting out a house effectively requires a resident who pays rent on time, takes care of your home, and follows the terms of the lease agreement. To reduce turnover expenses, you’re looking for a resident who is likely to stay in place for at least a year. A good tenant is communicative and responsive.
So, where do you find this tenant?
It starts with good marketing and a thorough tenant screening process.
Create a Set of Standard Qualifying Criteria
Your rental criteria should be in writing, and it should be used to evaluate each applicant consistently. Fair housing laws require you to treat every application the same way. When you have a documented set of standards that must be met before a tenant is approved for your property, you can demonstrate that you’re following fair housing laws and avoiding any activities that may be considered discriminatory.
Your rental criteria might include minimum income, credit standards, and a positive rental history. Provide this set of standards to any applicant before they pay the application fee and agree to be screened.
Verify Income and Employment
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says that tenants shouldn’t spend more than a third of their income on rent, otherwise it can create financial instability for them. Therefore, we recommend an income requirement that’s at least three times the amount of rent. If your property is renting for $1,500, all of the tenants combined must earn at least $4,500 per month.
Conduct Criminal and Credit Checks
A national background and eviction check is a good way to protect yourselves against tenants who may have a history of violent crime or recent evictions.
When it comes to credit, remember that you’re never likely to find a tenant with perfect credit. And while credit scores can be useful, reviewing the entire credit report will tell you more of what you need to know. A lot of people cannot climb out of medical debt or student loan debt. Perhaps a tenant recently went through a divorce or lost a job during the pandemic. Look for consistent payment of bills, especially housing-related bills.
Talk to Landlord References
Ask for the contact information for current and former landlords. We recommend sending them a reference form that they can fill out and sign. This will give you a written record of how the prospective tenant has performed in the past. Ask questions about late payments, whether an Unlawful Detainer was ever filed, if there are past balances due, and whether any pets caused damage at the home. Always ask if the landlord would be willing to rent a home to that tenant again.
Tenant screening should be thorough, legally compliant, and geared towards finding the best possible resident for your Norfolk rental property. If you’d like some additional tips or help renting out your home, please contact us at Doud Realty Services.