Using a comprehensive screening process when assessing prospective tenants is a crucial step in ensuring your success as a Sarasota landlord.
Screening potential renters allows landlords to determine whether an applicant meets their needs and standards before signing a lease agreement.
When you land a high-quality tenant, you are less likely to experience high turnover rates and will be able to retain your renters for the long term. Below you can find a step-by-step guide to help you create a thorough tenant screening process.
Determine Your Ideal Renter
Before leasing out your Sarasota rental property, it’s important to determine what characteristics you’re looking for in a renter. Below are the most common characteristics that landlords look for in their tenants.
- Can pay the rent consistently each month
- Employed in a stable job
- Has a good tenant history with no evictions
In addition, you may want to consider the area your property is in when determining your ideal tenant.
For example, if your property is near a Sarasota college or university you may want to target student demographics whereas a rental near a business district could be better suited to young professionals.
Pre-screening is a great way to drive efficiencies in your rental business, especially if your schedule is filled with other responsibilities like addressing maintenance requests or collecting rent payments. The below steps can be incredibly useful as a means to prescreen tenants:
- Include specific information in your ad copy such as whether your rental is pet friendly or if you allow smoking on the property.
- Ask preliminary questions during your initial interactions with the applicant including how long of a lease they are looking for and whether they intend to live with roommates
- Schedule a property showing prior to accepting a tenant application so you can get a sense of the tenant’s personality and ask them why they are looking for a new home.
- Inform the applicant that will be requesting authorization to review their tenant history and perform a background check
During the pre-screening process, be sure to pay attention to how interested prospective renters are. An engaged applicant who quickly submits required documents and answers questions promptly is more likely to become a long-term tenant and treat your property well!
Evaluating a Rental Application
As a landlord, it’s important to ensure you include specific questions on the application form you provide to prospective tenants. A rental application form provides landlords with detailed information that can help with the tenant selection process.
We recommend requesting the following fields on all your tenant applications:
- Renter contact information and address
- Current and past landlords’ names and contact information
- Work history including current and former job titles and employers
- Professional references
- Authorization to perform a credit and background check
Collecting the above information will help you determine whether a prospective renter will be able to pay rent and if they may cause property damage or violate the lease.
While industry standards often cite an income of 3 times the monthly rent as a guideline, a tenant with a solid rental history and a great credit score may be a better fit than a renter with a high income but poor credit score.
Checking Applicant Income and Employment
Verifying tenant employment is critical to figuring out whether the renter was truthful in their application.
However, it’s important to note that many employers who confirm whether a candidate is an employee and how long they worked with the company may be unable to release additional information related to salary or job performance.
As such, you can request that prospective tenants submit additional documents such as W-2s, pay stubs, or offer letters from an employer stating their salary.
Questions to Ask Former Landlords
When screening tenants, be sure to reach out to both current and former landlords. You can’t always take a current landlord’s statement at face value since they may be eager for the renter to move out of their rental.
Prior landlords are more likely to be candid when speaking with you as the renter is no longer a part of their business.
Reviewing Credit Reports
When reviewing your prospective tenants’ credit reports and backgrounds we recommend looking for a renter with a credit score of 680 or higher.
Accepting and Denying Applications
Once you’ve finished screening prospective tenants, you can choose which renter is the best fit for your Sarasota rental property When you select a tenant, be sure to reach out to them via email or phone to schedule a lease signing.
When denying an applicant's application, it’s important to send them an email stating such. While it’s not required to provide a reason for your denial, we recommend letting the candidate know why they weren’t selected if they reach out asking for clarification.
Always be sure that your reasons for accepting or denying a tenant application adhere to the Fair Housing Act.
Using a comprehensive tenant screening process is critical to protecting your investment and increasing your ROI! However, not all landlords have the spare time required to conduct an in-depth tenant screening.
If you need help with screening potential tenants, or any other aspect of property management, reach out to the experts at Stringer Management and benefit from their full array of property management services!