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Tenant Screening 101 – What You Need to Look For in Tampa

Tenant Screening 101 - What You Need to Look For in Tampa

Choosing the right tenant for your Tampa rental property is one of the most important things you will do as a landlord. When you carefully screen prospective tenants, you get a good idea of who you’re placing in your property. You’re more likely to end up with a qualified, responsible tenant who will consistently pay rent on time and take care of your home.

When you fail to screen tenants thoroughly, you run the risk of placing a bad tenant who will bring you stress and hassles. Spending the time and resources on a great screening process will save you from evictions, late rent payments, and property damage.

If you’re new to screening tenants, there are a few things to know.

Standard Rental Criteria and Applications

Fair housing laws are pretty strict, and when you’re screening tenants in Tampa, you have to screen each tenant the same way. The best way to do this is with well-documented and written standard rental criteria. You can establish what you’re looking for and what kind of standards prospective tenants will have to meet in order to be approved for your property.

Provide this criteria to every individual who wants to apply for your property. Anyone who is 18 years of age or older should be required to fill out the application.

Check Credit and Financial Stability

Checking credit is one of the first and most basic things that a landlord or property manager will do when screening tenants. You can establish a specific credit score that will qualify an applicant, or you can focus more on the credit report, which will show you how the applicant handles debt and bills.

We recommend that you not get too hung up on a credit score or looking for someone with perfect credit. Instead, make sure there are no debts owed to former landlords, apartment communities, or management companies. Look for overdue or unpaid utility bills. These are the things that might caution you against approving the tenant for your home.

Look at Nationwide Eviction and Criminal Reports

Renting to someone who has recently been evicted is risky. Always check the national eviction records and look for past criminal convictions. A few parking tickets is probably not grounds for a denial, but an applicant with a history of violent behavior or drug felonies will not make a great tenant.

Verify Income and Employment

You need to make sure the applicants can afford to pay rent every month. Ask for monthly or annual income, and make sure it’s at least three times the amount of your rent. Verify that amount with employers or request pay stubs. Many tenants work for traditional employers, but if they are self-employed or retired, you’ll have to verify income in other ways. Ask for bank statements or tax records.

Conduct Rental References

It only takes about five or 10 minutes to pick up the phone and call a former landlord or a current property manager. Verify the dates of residency and ask if rent was paid on time and the property was taken care of. You can discuss whether the tenant had pets and if there was damage left behind. Find out if proper notice was given before the tenant moved out. You can get a lot of information from people who have rented to your prospective tenant before.

Conduct Rental ReferencesThis is just a general overview of how to screen a tenant. For more information or help with leasing and Tampa property management, please contact our team at Real Property Management Instant Equity.




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