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How to Find a Good Tenant

Every landlord’s goal is to find a decent, paying tenant. Up your chances of finding a great tenant by following these tips!

First on the list is to know and follow the law. The Federal Fair Housing Act requires all landlords to treat all prospective tenants equally. You are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status and disability. Know the Fair Housing Rules in your state and locality, as well.

Next, choose the prospective tenant with good credit scores. A tenant with a great credit history is responsible. You can expect him to pay rent on time. To do this, you want to verify income. A good ballpark figure is a monthly income that’s at least three times the monthly rent. Run a credit check and see if bills are paid on time. See how much debt they currently have. Someone who earns three times the rent but owes more in debt may have also find it hard to pay on time. Credit scores and credit histories will also reveal prior evictions as well as civil judgments and bankruptcies.

Third, do a criminal background check. Criminal information is public information and can be accessed at court houses. To do this, you will need your prospective tenant’s name and date of birth. Just make ensure that you are presented with a valid ID as criminals will falsify identity too. Thorough criminal checks will always include, a Federal Court Record Search, Statewide Criminal Record Search, Country Criminal Court Search, a Department of Corrections Offender Search and a Sexual Offender Database Search.

Justifying rejection of a prospective tenant is easier if the person in question has a drug (or violent crime conviction) as these will also affect the safety of fellow tenants.

Fourth, check to see if your tenant moves of switches jobs often. A good tenant is a stable tenant. Take a look at your prospective tenant’s prior addresses and employment history. Moving homes and switching jobs often are not good signs. This behavior will most likely continue and you might have to fill a vacancy in the near future. Further, inconsistent employment may mean that they will not be able to afford the rent. You don’t want to deal with an eviction down the line.

Fifth, enforce the two people per bedroom rule. Slow down wear and tear by limiting people per apartment. While state and local laws differ, two people per bedroom is considered reasonable under the Fair Housing Act. Note that you can put a cap on the number of adults per apartment but not on the number of children.

You will eventually find tenants that fit the bill. However, if the prospective tenant fits the bill but something still feels off, best to trust your instinct. People can look good on paper but may have been using someone else’s identity. It is better to err on the safe side. Hold on to your screening process but never ignore your intuition.

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