Owning a rental property in Tampa has its many advantages. But even the most lucrative of benefits can be quickly soured with the placement of one not-so-great tenant. And to avoid the pitfalls of bad renters, you spend a considerable amount of time improving your tenant application process. Spot gaps in your pre-screening strategy by checking this list of things to include every time.
1. Keep up with Legal Application Requirements
It can be a tall-order challenge to keep up with the legal requirements for rental applications, especially today. Guidelines change, parameters change, and laws change. Don’t presume you know what you can and can’t ask on your application without consulting your legal partner. And stay on top of potential shifts in tenant application processes by re-evaluating the legal side of things at least once each year. With up-to-date laws in mind, you can then move forward with enhancing how you pre-screen tenants.
2. Get Authorization for Background Checks
There are certain questions you can’t ask during your tenant application process. But you can ask for authorization to pull and review a potential renter’s criminal background. And executing these checks will likely require a cost. They’re essential nonetheless because they can provide you with past behavioral red flags to avoid, including violent crimes, harassment, or theft. Avoiding a bad tenant situation with a background check will be far less costly than signing a lease and encountering a problem later.
3. Make the Calls and Inquiries Every Time
Part of your tenant application asks for information that will allow you to make a few inquiries. You’ll verify employment, follow up on past rental experiences, and explore financial health concerns. Don’t just collect those details. Make the calls – EVERY time. It’s not uncommon to feel pressured to get someone in your space. However, just because candidates fill in all those answers doesn’t mean they’re authentic. The only way to confirm the validity of the information provided on the application is to call, screen, and follow up with each.
4. Watch for Verbal and Non-Verbal Responses
Make sure your pre-screen process includes an in-person meeting of some kind. And if you’re managing your rental property remotely, schedule a video call. Renter profiles might look great on paper, but you’ll also want to gauge verbal and non-verbal cues with an in-person conversation. There can be red flags during those chats to indicate your prospective renters aren’t as financially secure as the application indicated. Maybe they’re less than honest about who’s planning to live with them or about having pets. Have the conversation and see what else you can learn about each candidate before officially making a lease-signing decision.
5. Layout All the Payment, Deposit, and Fees Upfront
Once a potential candidate has made it through the first leg of pre-screening checks, you’ll want to have a conversation to outline, in detail, all the costs of leasing from you. Be transparent about deposit amounts and requirements for getting those back. Talk about pet fees, late fees and timelines, and eviction consequences. Discuss damage to property, property maintenance, and expectations upfront, too. If at any point, the applicant seems hesitant about the costs, you can address it immediately. Having these conversations early will allow you to address any potential payment excuses that may arise.
Your tenant application and vetting processes are mission-critical to your rental property’s success. Consider these insights to improve how you accept and evaluate renters. And when you’re ready to pass the reins onto a professional, let PMI JCM Realty Group do all the pre-screening for you!
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