Landlords are always going to have different opinions on how to rent out a property, but one thing nearly every owner can agree on is what makes a great tenant. Like most owners, you’re looking for a tenant who has the financial health to pay rent on time. You also want someone who will help take care of your property, follow the terms of the lease agreement, and report maintenance when it’s necessary.
When you’re looking for the best residents in your local market, you need to know how to screen for them.
We’re in a unique position at TCS Management. Due to our extensive and strategic marketing process and network of agents and real estate brokers, we often have multiple tenants interested in the same property. We can afford to be selective, and we are.
Here’s an overview of how we screen for the best Philadelphia tenants.
Good Residents Have Good Credit
A perfect credit score doesn’t necessarily mean you have a good tenant who is going to cooperate and follow the lease. But, a solid credit history that shows a respect for financial responsibilities is a good way to start screening for an outstanding resident.
Check for patterns of financial behavior. You don’t want to see any overdue debts to former landlords or apartment communities. You definitely don’t want to see prior evictions. An ideal resident’s credit report will demonstrate that utility bills were paid on time and not in collections.
You can also use the credit report to verify addresses and residencies. If anything looks strange during the screening process, you can ask your applicant to explain.
Conduct a Criminal Background Check
A nationwide background check and a review of criminal records is also necessary. You want to make sure you’re not placing a tenant who has a history of violent behavior or drug charges. We recommend checking every national database that lists sexual offenders. Make sure your applicants provide permission for you to conduct this check; you’ll need a signature on the application.
Verify Employment and Income
Check employment and verify income. This is perhaps the most important part of the screening process because you want to be certain that your resident can afford the rent you’re charging.
While you can call the applicant’s employer and ask about the position that’s held, the length of employment, and salary, not all companies are going to freely give out that information. Prepare to ask your applicant for documentation. This might be a pay stub, an employment contract, or recent bank statements and tax returns. You want to see earnings that meet or exceed three times the monthly rent. This is the industry standard, and we’ve found it works.
Talk to Former and Current Landlords
Verify the applicant’s rental history, and talk to current and former landlords. Find out if rent was paid on time, whether any property damage was left behind, and if the lease terms were followed. Make sure the dates of residency match up to what’s on the application, and ask some questions that verify you’re actually talking to the landlord, and not a friend of the applicant’s.
We have a number of screening tools we use to ensure we’re placing only the best residents in your property. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with your leasing process, please contact us. TCS Management is a full service property management company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also serving Cherry Hill, NJ, Wilmington, Delaware and the surrounding areas. We focus on single-family and multifamily residential property management of homes, condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings.