Horror movies haunting the television screen, jack-o-lanterns smiling menacingly, the cool autumn breeze casting a chill down your spine. Still, something is scarier than any ghost story.
“How can that be?” you might ask. “I screened my tenants as thoroughly as possible!”
And while you may believe that to be true, the scariest things have a tendency to slip right through the cracks. Even missing the smallest steps can have a detrimental effect, and let’s be honest -- no one wants to deal with a tenant nightmare. In fact, a tenant nightmare usually ends up resulting in a financial nightmare as well.
To protect your community AND your finances, keep a few simple things in mind when conducting a tenant screening.
1. Get a second opinion.
A great place to start is their job. Rather than simply finding out where they work and moving on, have a talk with their boss. This is a person who experiences your prospective tenant on a near-daily basis. Find out if they’re a conscientious employee who works well with others, or if they pay no mind or consideration to those on their team. Poor work ethic could be a bad sign.
Another trusted individual to talk to would be a landlord -- ideally more than one. Find out about any issues this tenant may have caused and how the landlord felt about the resident. Gaining this insight is an important part of your decision.
2. Seek the current situation.
If presented the opportunity, stop by their current house or apartment. How do they live -- messy or clean? Any major damages present? Who do they live with? Any signs of pets? Any signs of shady activity? While you can’t judge everything by appearances, you can get an inkling of any unwanted behavior during your visit. Getting a look into their life is paramount to understanding who they are and what they might bring into your community.
3. Ask meaningful questions.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but some people tend to oversimplify this step. Simply rattling off questions won’t give you any meaningful information. Without questioning anything too personal, delve into details about the reasons why they have chosen to move or other aspects where red flags could be hidden. Make sure to clarify details just to ensure they are not glazing over the truth of the situation.
4. Check, check, check.
Background check, criminal check, credit check. Check it all. This background information will give you a broader sense of their history and can predict how they might act in the future. Getting an idea of a person’s behavior, finances, debts, and more can sound the alarms quickly.
Especially when perusing their criminal record, the type of crime is crucial. Any history of violence is almost always a no go. Safety is everything when making this type of decision.
At the end of the day, conducting these screenings might feel like hiring a new employee, and in many ways, you are searching for the same qualities. By ensuring a person is trustworthy, considerate, and dependable now, you can avoid any scary situations later.