Landlords can speed up the approval process, guarantee fairness and objectivity in tenant screening, and defend themselves from potential discrimination claims by using a leasing criteria checklist. Landlords can avoid wasting time on applicants who won’t meet minimal requirements by defining the requirements for applicants up front and communicating them to potential tenants. Landlords can select dependable renters and avoid discriminatory practices by using a clear, thorough, and concise tenant screening checklist. The key to figuring out whether a potential tenant will look after the renting property, pay rent on time, and abide by property rules and procedures is to apply the checklist to everyone without exception. Landlords can reduce the number of applicants by incorporating a thorough and thoughtful list of rental requirements.
What Should Be on a Rental Criteria Checklist?
To effectively evaluate potential tenants and establish the necessary qualifications for your rental property, it is important to create a thorough tenant screening checklist. This checklist should include key information that focuses on critical aspects of a potential tenant’s history.
Some of the items that you can include in your rental criteria checklist are:
- Rental History: Check the applicant’s rental history for the past 3-5 years. Obtain contact information for their current and prior landlords and look for late or missed rent payments, evictions, disciplinary actions, complaints, unpaid utility bills, or any other disruptions. Also, find out if the tenant took good care of the property and followed the rules of their tenancy agreement.
- Current Income: Verify the tenant’s stable source of income with a minimum gross income-to-rent ratio of 3:1. Look for continuous employment for the past 3-5 years, with employment at their current job for at least a year. Check for copies of the most recent 2-3 months of pay stubs, bank statements, or tax returns if necessary. Confirm any other income such as alimony, child support, or court-ordered income.
- References: Obtain personal, professional, and previous landlord references from those who have known the applicant for at least a year or two. Verify their length of acquaintance with the applicant, any complaints, late payments, or other issues they may have had. Asking the right questions to a prospective tenant’s references can verify whether or not they have a proven track record of paying rent on time, taking care of the property, following rules, and communicating issues or problems with landlords.
- Credit Reports: Study the credit reports of prospective tenants to determine any financial liabilities they have and get a better idea of their debt to income ratio. Decide what rental criteria is important to you and for your property. For example, you may want to require a minimum credit score of 550 with no evictions, bankruptcies, or active collection proceedings. Determine whether credit items such as medical care liabilities, student loan debt, paid collections, or discharged bankruptcies will affect qualification or not.
- Background Checks: Determine whether it is legal to check a potential tenant’s criminal history in your jurisdiction. If you decide to do so, determine what your stance is on prior history regarding registered sex offenders, outstanding or previous drug charges or convictions, pending charges or lawsuits, crimes involving assault, weapons, theft or trespassing. Be clear on your tenant screening checklist about which types of crimes will deem an applicant unsuitable for your property.
- Specific Policies: Include any specific policies you have for your property, such as whether pets are allowed, the pet policy, if smoking is permitted, whether off-street parking is available, the parking charges and/or policies, guest rules or occupancy rules, laundry facilities, and other rental application guidelines.
- Other Criteria: Verify the applicant’s identity with a government-issued ID card, such as a driver’s license, passport, or ID card. Check that the application has been completed fully and honestly. Determine whether the applicant has the ability to pay up-front deposits and any move-in fees. Also, take note of other behavior that might give you an idea of whether the applicant respects the terms of your rental agreement and your property, such as punctuality, notice of appointment changes, and adherence to stated rules and policies during property viewings.