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Best Practices for Screening Potential Residents

February 19, 2020 / by Hignell Property Management Team

screening potential residents

Potential resident screening is an important part of finding the best residents for your properties. The screening process is essential to help you remove those individuals that could potentially cause you financial losses or property damage in the future. In order to help you with the screening process, here are several best practice methods that you'll want to adopt before having your first interview.

Screening potential residents can be complicated. One misstated term or reason for not selecting a particular person can lead to legal consequences and charges being filed. But there are things that you can do to avoid that situation.

Adopt a Screening Policy

The first practice that you will want to adopt is to have a set policy and consistency to the way you screen future clients. Have a list of criteria that every potential resident must meet if they want to rent your property. By having a set policy and list of criteria, you'll avoid being accused of favoritism or racial rejection.

Avoid Asking Personal Questions

You will want to avoid asking too many questions of each client. Avoid asking questions that can potentially identify the ethnic origin or religious background of a person. During the process it's essential that you ask about past addresses, income, employment and letters of recommendations. These questions and more should be asked of every applicant regardless of where they are from or what they may look like.

Enlist a Property Management Company

There is always an option of enlisting the services of a management agency. This way all of the potential liability is laid on them. The property management company will be able to screen each applicant with care and provide that professionalism that everyone looks for. This way you can set parameters that need to be met before approval is given for the rental process to take place.

Require a Background Check

Require a background check of all potential residents. The background form needs to be part of the packet that everyone has to fill out. You'll have to be careful on how you reject criminal reports, but a consistency will pay off in the end. Not every applicant with a record means they are bad people. But it does provide insight into reliability and honesty.

Keep Up on Current Laws

Keep up on current laws and ordinances regarding rental housing. There are laws at every level of government that protect renters and property owners. This will mean that you will need to keep your forms current. It's always a good idea to have a revision date at the bottom of each form, so people are aware that they are current.

Notify Applicants if They Were Not Selected

Help every applicant understand why their request to rent was denied. This will mean that a letter should be sent to them in a timely fashion explaining the reasons why they were not accepted. Sometimes the letter may mention the reasons why in a list format, or simply provide the top reason why acceptance was not granted.

Consult an Attorney

It would also be a good idea to have an attorney look at any forms before putting them to use. An attorney can check over the wording to make sure that it is legally compliant. They can also make sure that the language of the documents are fair to both parties and that your interests are well represented.

It would be beneficial for you to use the services of a property management company. They are already current on all the laws and regulations and they can help place the right person behind the door of your property. 

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Topics: Residential Property Management, Investment Property