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The Most Important Part of Screening Tenants

Fort Pitt Property Management - Saturday, June 2, 2018

How would you define a perfect tenant? We would suggest a perfect tenant is gainfully employed and can afford 3x the rent. They also understand the rent is due on the 1st and perform as such. They show a record of stability that suggests they will continue to be gainfully employed and pay rent on time. Their cleanliness and housekeeping skills will allow for a quick and painless turn of the unit. They have also chosen to be a law-abiding citizen that John Adams himself would be proud of. Finally, they are a problem solver and understand that changing a light bulb is a chore for which they are up to the challenge.

We often discuss with property owners the specifics of our screening procedures. They like to share opinions on minimum credit scores, criminal records, bankruptcy and eviction judgements. These are all very important criteria for screening tenants, but most people completely miss the most important part of the process. That is the pre-screening of potential tenants.

Let’s face it, showing a property is time consuming. Many people no-show even after you confirmed your appointment the day of. There are also lots of tire kickers out there that are not even seriously considering your unit. The point being, screening doesn’t begin with the background check and an application fee. Pre-screening tenants begins with the listing itself. Clearly communicate the criteria for tenancy. Talk about pets, smokers, security deposit, and minimum qualifications for the unit.

Then, during a phone call make sure to cover these topics:

  • Ask about what kind of place they are looking for and why they’re moving – if the answer is they are having landlord problems and they need a place ASAP then they most likely are not who you are looking for.
  • Explain again the minimum qualifications – This often leads to a hang up and that is a good thing. You have avoided a meaningless showing.
  • Let them talk – they sometimes will volunteer information that shines a light on what kind of tenant they would be.
  • Make sure they have driven by the property – This shows us they are serious and understand where the property is and if they would enjoy living in the area.

Once you’ve covered all these bases, it’s now time to schedule the in person showing. The tour should be guided with a printed listing and some supporting information. Show up early, turn all the lights on, open the blinds and pour on the charm. Remember, you pre-screened them, so this tenant could be a real catch!