Tenant Screening

tenant screening

How to Streamline Your Tenant Screening Process

More than 116 million people rent their homes in the United States, more than at any other point in the past 50 years.

That’s great if you’re a landlord or property manager as it means you’re likely to get plenty of good applicants whenever there’s a vacancy in one of your properties.

But lots of applicants can translate into lots of time spent reviewing applications, showing the space, and conducting background checks. Good business owners are always looking for ways to make things more efficient to save time and money. The tenant screening process is one place where technology can help you do that while still offering opportunities to provide a human touch.

Let’s take a look at how you can use it to streamline the process.

Start With Good Communication

Clear and transparent communication from the beginning helps build a good relationship with your new tenant before you even know who it is. It makes it more likely you’ll get tenants you like that will stay for a long time.

But trying to talk with everyone to set expectations and keep them updated on where things stand quickly starts to become a huge time suck. Automating certain pieces of communication can help you save time and streamline the process.

Automation ensures every application gets the same information and that they get all the different pieces you need to provide them. You don’t forget to send anything, and you stay consistent to comply with various housing laws. With your various emails already written, you don’t have to do things from scratch each time.

So what should you automate in your messaging? Any piece that can be the same across applicants or doesn’t require any special information is fair game here. Good examples would include:

  • Status updates like application received or application accepted
  • Welcome packet for new tenant onboarding
  • Rejection notes for those you don’t choose

Application status emails should include details for the next step like when they can expect to hear from you with an acceptance or rejection. You can send the links they need to get tenant web access for them to sign your lease and submit their deposit in your portal.

Build Your Process

When you have a set screening process, it becomes easier to keep up with all the details because you don’t have to stop to think about what to do next. That keeps things moving and makes sure each step gets done. A good basic screening process includes:

  • Set and know your criteria
  • Have an application
  • Run background checks
  • Interview candidates
  • Select and notify the tenant
  • Notify those not selected

There are a few tricky spots here where you need to have to take care. Some locales have set housing rules that limit what you can ask for on the application, while others limit what you can consider when selecting a tenant. You also need to know what you can and can’t ask during the interview process under the Fair Housing Act.

Automation can help you navigate those waters if you have software that takes all of those rules into consideration. Easy to build applications, calendar scheduling for viewings and interviews, and default responses to inquiries take care of some of the repetitive parts of this process.

Putting your application online speeds up the time it takes to get the information into your management software and is filtered by your criteria. Your system can automatically do background checks and rate the reports for those that pass the first filter. Once it’s all set up, it can even send out update and rejection emails at the appropriate stages.

Choose Reliable Software

If you’re convinced automation can make your life easier, what do you do next? You want to choose the right software for your needs so it does make things easier and not more complicated.

Start by deciding just how comprehensive you want the package to be. If you only manage a few properties, something that collects applications and does screening might be all you need. Most property managers deal with a large number of units, so software that can run the entire process from listing to onboarding might be a better fit.

For most, a critical part of streamlining the process is a good organization. This means having a clear dashboard that offers up everything you need to know in one place. It should be easy to see when something needs your attention and keep the entire team on the same page with multi-user access to the data.

Auto-screening options allow you to do many of the automation mentioned here, but there’s more you can accomplish with them. For example, you might put the background check as the last step of the application so you get everything in one report rather than having to go back to do the checks. It’s especially a great tool for use with group applications.

Beyond that, look for an application portal that is transparent and makes a good impression. You also need to ensure the background checks are being pulled from trusted sources, and the pre-written text for items like adverse action letters covers what’s needed for your location.

Get the Most From Your Tenant Screening

Tenant screening plays a vital role in the rental business, but even with only a few properties, it can take up a lot of time. Streamlining the process ensures you don’t miss things or run afoul of fair housing laws. Automate communications and appointment scheduling to make it easier for you and potential tenants to get through all the steps efficiently.

Need help with applications and screening? Contact Rent Safe to discuss our tenant screening services for property managers and landlords.

remove evictions from tenant screenings

Eviction 101: Can You Remove Evictions from Tenant Screenings?

Estimates say there are about 1 million evictions each year in the US. Many people have a poor rental history, so you want to be careful when you review rental applications. 

If you’re a landlord, you know the importance of tenant screenings to find the right person to rent your property. Here’s some information on rental history and how to remove evictions from tenant screenings.

Tenant Screenings

There are several ways to discover if a tenant has a history of evictions. If they owed money, it will appear on their credit report if the landlord took it to a collection agent. 

You can call their previous landlord for a reference. Always check with several previous landlords as their current one may be happy to see them go. In some states, you can pull an eviction report depending on the laws in place.

Finding a Screening Service

If you’re a high-volume property manager, you understand the value of a simple process to screen your tenants. A tenant screening service allows you to run background checks on a potential tenant. Look for an online tenant screening platform that’s easy to use and gives you real-time results.

When evaluating an online screening service, test the dashboard to see how easy it is to add documents, co-applicants, and other relevant information. You want your service to provide information you can use to evaluate a tenant application.

Compliance Issues

Tenant screening reports are consumer reports. When you use a consumer report to decide on a potential tenant, you must follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Review your local state laws and federal laws on consumer reports to ensure you’re following eviction laws.

If you deny a rental, require someone to get a co-signor, ask them to pay a larger deposit, or pay higher rent than you would typically charge, that’s considered an adverse action.

When you take an adverse action, always notify the tenant in writing. It’s a way to let them know what is in their reports and how the information impacts them. 

How to Remove Evictions From Tenant Screenings

If you’re a tenant with a poor rental history, you might ask how to remove an eviction from your record. If you’re determined, there are three main ways to remove it.

Wait It Out

An eviction stays on the public record for seven years. After that, it may still appear, even though the time limit has passed. You may need to take additional steps to have your record cleared. These steps include taking the case to court or working on a settlement agreement.

Prove Wrongful Eviction

Tenants have rights, and you may feel you’ve been wrongfully evicted. An attorney specializing in local landlord-tenant laws can help. If you can show that your landlord didn’t follow the proper procedures during the eviction, they may advise that you take the matter to court.

You may be able to prove wrongful eviction if you can prove that you didn’t violate your lease. In that case, a court may decide to remove the eviction from your record. 

Form a Settlement Agreement

If the eviction was valid and you want to make amends, you may be able to have the notice removed from your public record. There are several steps you can take to give you the best chance of reaching a settlement agreement.

1. Pay Your Debt

If the reason for your eviction was non-payment of rent, you might be able to negotiate with your previous landlord. They may accept a payment of the amount you owed them in exchange for removing the eviction from your record.

They may be willing to settle for a lower amount in some cases. Be sure to get an agreement in writing before you pay the settlement.

2. Call Off the Collection Agent

Most outstanding debts end up with a collection agency, and the record will still exist with the credit bureau they remove it. Take your settlement agreement to the agent and prove that you’ve cleared the debt. This proof should be enough to clear the collection record.

3. Request Removal of the Notice

Ask the property manager to remove the eviction notice from tenant screening reports. This should be a part of the negotiated settlement, but you may need to follow up to have your record cleared.

4. Dispute The Eviction Notice

As a last resort, after you’ve done everything you can to clear your name, you can file a formal dispute. Raise the dispute with tenant-screening companies and the credit bureau. Once you’ve provided proof of settlement, they should clear your record.

Applicants With an Eviction Record

What do you do when you discover an eviction notice on a tenant screening report? There may be situations where you might consider renting to a tenant with a past eviction.

Ensure you aren’t renting to problem renters by taking some additional screening steps. Some of these steps may be adverse actions that require written notice to the tenant.

Ask for an Explanation

When the reason for the eviction wasn’t non-payment of rent, there may be personal factors at play. Ask how they resolved the problem and what steps they are taking to ensure that the same thing won’t happen again.

Check Their Credit Rating

Someone with a good credit score may be a good tenant. If they have a great job and a stable employment history you may decide to accept them.

Require a Guarantor

One option is to ask them to have a reliable person guarantee the rent. They would sign a document making them financially responsible if the tenant doesn’t pay the rent.

Another option is to have the applicant’s roommate co-sign the lease agreement. In either situation, be sure to run the screening process on the second person.

Ask for a Larger Deposit 

You may be able to ask for a larger deposit upfront to cover potential future damages. Be sure to check that a larger deposit doesn’t violate your local landlord-tenant laws before you take this step.

Obtain Additional References

Ask for personal references from reliable members of society. The applicant’s employer might be someone you can rely on if the applicant has worked there for a long time.

You could ask for a credit reference from a business they use regularly. They can assure you that the applicant is trustworthy and is able to make regular on-time payments.

In most cases, a property manager has to follow company policies. They may have restrictions on renting to someone with a past history of evictions. Private landlords can make a judgment call in these situations.

Tenant Screening: An Essential Service

If you weren’t convinced before, we hope you are now. A tenant screening service is a no-brainer, especially when you know it’s possible for a person to remove evictions from tenant screenings.

You need the support of a professional screening service to ensure your tenants are trustworthy. Contact Rent Safe today to discuss your tenant screening needs.

Texas Eviction Laws

Understanding Texas Eviction Laws and Tenant Background Checks

Millions of renters get evicted every year, and recent reports show big Texas cities like Houston and Dallas leading the list with the most eviction filings in the country.

No landlord wants to go through the eviction process with their tenants as it can get messy and take up a lot of time. But when the choice is between that or going without rental income, it’s an easy decision.

Texas eviction laws cover permitted reasons for evictions along with the steps you’ll need to follow. It’s critical to know the rules not just to avoid illegal evictions but also to keep from having to start the process over again if you miss a deadline.

Let’s walk through the eviction laws and look at how you might avoid going down this path to start with.

Reasons to Evict

Evicting a tenant in Texas starts with understanding the reasons you are legally permitted to evict. You aren’t permitted to evict without cause if your tenant is on a fixed-term lease, so you need a good (and well-documented) reason to start the process. Reasons you can evict include:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Failure to vacate after lease ends
  • Lease violations
  • Texas Property Code violations
  • Foreclosure of the rental property

Under Texas rental laws, tenants must get at least a two-day grace period before their rent is considered late and the landlord can charge a late fee. But there is no grace period required before the landlord can serve a notice to vacate for failing to pay the rent.

Late rent, lease violations, and code violations can all be remedied, which stops the eviction process as long as the remediation falls within the notice period. The period is determined by the property code or rental agreement.

Landlords sometimes attempt to evict tenants for other reasons, which can cause problems. This is especially true when the landlord simply considers the renter a pest for exercising their rights to file complaints or pursue legal action against the landlord. Neither of these is considered a valid reason for an eviction notice.

Texas law also states that landlords can’t remove their tenants themselves, nor can they try to force them to move without going through the eviction process. That’s considered a “self-help” eviction and can result in a lawsuit brought by the tenant. This includes retaliatory conduct like cutting off utilities or changing the locks.

Texas Eviction Process

Once you have a legal reason to pursue eviction, it’s critical to follow the process laid out in the Texas Property Code. Any time a step isn’t done properly, you have to start the process over. The basic steps in Texas include:

  • Notice posted
  • Petition filed and served
  • Court hearing and judgment
  • Writ of possession issued
  • Possession of property returned


The type of notice you post depends on the reason for evicting. Most of the differences revolve around the amount of time provided before the tenant has to vacate the property.

All notices must be in writing and served by delivery in person, placement on the property, or mail. The notice has to include all the important information to be considered valid and start the timer for vacating. This includes the reason for the notice, the final date and time for vacating, and a warning that the landlord can pursue legal action.

The notice could be the only step you need to take if the tenant vacates the property within the time posted.

Petition and Hearing

If the tenant doesn’t vacate, you would file a petition with the justice of the peace court, which can cost you $46-$100 in filing fees. The petition needs to detail all the pertinent identifying information, grounds for eviction, notice date, and delivery method, along with a few other things. Once it’s filed, the court issues a citation to the tenant at least six days before the eviction hearing.

The tenant can respond in writing or wait until the hearing. The hearing takes place 10-21 days after the complaint is filed and can take place before a jury. You should bring with you:

  • Copy of lease
  • Notice to quit or pay
  • Complaint filed with the court
  • Evidence or witnesses

If the tenant doesn’t show up, the court issues a default judgment for the landlord. A writ of possession — final notice to leave — is issued, and the tenant has 24 hours to vacate. If they don’t go, they can be forcibly removed at that point by the sheriff or constable.

Avoid Eviction Hassles With Screening

While the unexpected can happen and cause a tenant to get behind on their rent, proper tenant screening can help you avoid situations that end in eviction.

Good screening starts by setting your requirements, and prequalifying potential tenants against those. This could be through an initial phone call or by including your minimum conditions in your ad. These might include income, credit score, or lifestyle factors like pets or smoking.

A required application makes your process more formal and ensures you get all the information you need to conduct tenant background checks and verify income. The form also keeps you consistent with the questions you ask and the info you get.

The formal screening portion includes the background check and credit report. Financial stability and past rental history go a long way to figuring out if a person is at high risk of being a problem tenant whom you might have to evict someday.

Don’t Run Afoul of Texas Eviction Laws

Eviction is a word no landlord or tenant likes to hear, but times come when it’s the only course of action. Texas eviction laws exist to protect tenant rights, which means you need to know them well to ensure you stay within the lines. Make sure you understand the process and pay close attention to the various deadlines to ensure your eviction is legal.

While eviction filing fees in Texas are low, the process can be a drain on your time and energy. Contact us to find out how our customizable tenant screening can help you get a higher quality tenant in your property.

a landlord asking questions to prospective tenants

9 Questions to Ask Every Prospective Tenant (and a Few Not to Ask)

Property management is no walk in the park. Mistakes are expensive, and work is plentiful. One wrong move can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Finding a tenant who is a good fit is one of the most important tasks for a property manager. An ill-fitting tenant could potentially cause all sorts of trouble, financial and otherwise. Knowing the right questions to ask potential tenants is crucial.

Every property manager should have a set of questions ready for any new prospective tenant who comes along. They should be the same for everyone who wants to apply, which will undercut any potential discrimination claims. 

Asking the right questions first can save a lot of time and energy on criminal background checks and credit reports. Here are some ideas on the questions you should and shouldn’t be asking.

The Most Valuable Questions You Can Ask a Potential Tenant

The responses you get from specific questions will tell you a lot about your prospective tenant and whether they are a good fit for your rental. Craft your list of questions carefully, using trial and error to find what works best in your particular interview situation. Use the questions below as a starting point to see what fits your needs:

1. How Long Have You Been in Your Current Residence?

The ideal tenant, for most landlords, will sign a one-year lease or longer. Asking how long they’ve been in their current place lets you know if they move around a lot. You’ll be able to use this information and the application to see if there is a pattern of moving frequently. It’s also possible that you need a tenant who only wants to rent for six months or less at a time. Asking this question lets you gauge a tenant’s reliability and intent.

2. What Is Your Monthly Income?

Paying rent on time is a trait you want every tenant to have. The rule of thumb is that a tenant should spend no more than 30% of their income on household rent. Monthly income doesn’t tell a complete story, though. Make sure to consider any debt or lack thereof that will show up in a credit check. Don’t ask about specific sources of income, just a general amount to avoid privacy issues.

3. Why Are You Moving?

You want a solid answer to this question. It’s best if a tenant is moving to find a bigger place, changed jobs, wants to live closer to a relative, or even just loves the area. Keep an eye out for more questionable reasons such as disputes with landlords, complaints about the property, or any court proceedings in progress with previous landlords. These are red flags that indicate this could be a troublesome tenant.

4. When Can You Move In?

It might seem appealing if a prospective tenant can move in this weekend, but a closer look can raise more questions worth asking. Most standard leases take 30 days to terminate, so someone able to move in immediately may have been evicted, had a sudden job transfer, or is a victim of a natural disaster or domestic issues.

5. Can I Call Former Landlords and Employers for References?

Employment references can verify stability. A tenant who doesn’t want you to call their previous landlords or employers could have something to hide. Former landlord testimonials are better than current. A current landlord could be telling you anything you want to hear just to unload a bad tenant. Getting this information on your own prevents any forgery from occurring down the line.

a tenant moving into her new property with boxes

6. Do You Agree to a Credit and Background Check?

This one may be obvious, but if someone doesn’t want their criminal background or credit results revealed, it’s not a good sign. This problem solves itself, however. Require background and credit check consent with every application. You shouldn’t consider anyone’s application without them.

7. Are You Able to Pay a Security Deposit and First Month’s Rent?

There may be times when you’re tempted to negotiate for a portion of the security deposit or less than a month’s rent upfront. It’s always a bad idea. Nothing says starting off on the wrong foot quite like not having enough cash to get in the door.

8. How Many People Will Be Living in the Home?

There is usually less wear and tear on a property with fewer people on the lease. No more than two people per bedroom should be expected, not including an infant. Overcrowding is not only a health and safety risk but also probably illegal. Most counties legally limit the number of people allowed under one lease.

9. What Is Something That Could Keep You From Paying Your Rent?

This is another question that can give some pretty telling responses. Most people will respond with answers about job loss, severe injury, or a death in the family. If you get a more specific answer, such as school supplies or car payments, this prospective tenant may already be foreseeing trouble, and that means it probably won’t be long.

The fair housing laws prohibit asking tenants specific questions such as age, use of service animal, marital status, birthplace, bank account balances, or religious preferences. Keep your questions focused on your rental property and the specific situation you’re filling. Just be sure to refrain from any negative lines of questioning.

An Online Platform to Simplify the Application Process

A well-thought-out, strategically worded line of questioning can be a landlord’s best tool in the journey to find the perfect tenant. The Rent Safe platform is an economical way to streamline the tenant screening process for both property managers and tenants.

Our innovative approach allows landlords to create a custom application and monitor progress, while applicants can apply and upload supporting documents easily. Contact Rent Safe to see all the ways our platform can help simplify your rental applicant screening processes.

interior setting 5MFH8EM

A Complete Guide to the Top Tenant Screening Services

A Complete Guide to the Best Tenant Screening Services

Everyone strives to work with responsible tenants who pay their rent on time. Landlords and property managers must conduct thorough due diligence on their prospective tenants if they want to find the best possible applicants. 

Tenant screening services are helpful tools to make the screening and rental process easier and more thorough. They allow landlords to conduct background checks, view credit reports, and verify the applicant’s track record with previous landlords and employers. 

Having access to this information can help you make informed decisions about prospective tenants. There are several tenant screening services available that offer different features and vary in terms of price and expediency.

What You Need to Know About Screening Services

It’s not only legal to screen tenants, it’s also an encouraged practice among landlords and property managers. Accessing an individual’s personal information does come with limitations, however. You’ll want to be sure that any screening service you choose is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). 

What kind of information does a tenant screening service provide? Most services offer a credit history, address and employment history, and Social Security number verification. More in-depth reports will include a full credit report and background check. Some services also have access to other features such as online rental applications and e-signature functions for completing the lease and other important documents.

The Top Tenant Screening Services

a landlord using tenant screening software

There are many screening services available, and each one is slightly different. A landlord or property manager should first decide what information they need most from a tenant. Is it worth it to pay more for a tenant’s full credit report, or will a basic overview suffice? Will you require background checks and any eviction history? 

Deciding on the information that’s most important to you will prepare you to move forward with selecting the right tenant screening service. Here are some of the top services currently available.

1. RentPrep

RentPrep hires FCRA-certified screeners to conduct manual screenings rather than relying on databases that may produce inaccurate information. It has thus built a strong reputation as a reliable screening service. Here are some highlights of RentPrep’s service:

  • Reports are compiled by in-house screeners
  • Phone, chat, and email customer support
  • Discounts for owners of 50 properties or more
  • Results typically available in an hour (during normal business hours)


RentPrep offers different levels of service, including a basic background check or a full credit report.

2. First Advantage

Like RentPrep, First Advantage hires professionals to monitor screenings for a high level of accuracy. It offers an array of comprehensive reports, including history details on rentals, landlords, and utility debt, along with criminal background checks across every state. Highlights of the First Advantage service:

  • Free online library of tenant screening documents
  • Choose any or all of the three credit bureaus for credit reports
    26 locations in 14 countries
  • Criminal records database updated daily 


First Advantage chose not to offer a standard pricing plan and instead will provide a price quote based on your unique needs and desired services.

3. SmartMove

SmartMove provides results directly from parent company TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. It allows property managers and real estate agents the option to charge a tenant directly for their credit report and background check, a useful feature for an agent working with multiple properties. Three plans are available that offer various levels of service: SmartCheck Basic, SmartCheck Plus, and SmartCheck Premium. Highlights of the SmartMove service:

  • Results directly from a credit bureau
  • No setup fees, no monthly service charge
  • Manage multiple properties from a single account
  • Option to charge the applicant for the screening costs


Another benefit of this service is that tenants’ personal information is kept safe: Rather than disclose personal info directly to the landlord, the tenant fills everything out online and the results report is sent directly to the landlord or real estate agent for approval. 

4. Cozy.co

Like SmartMove, Cozy.co allows tenants to maintain control of their personal information. Tenants fill out their information online, and result reports are sent directly to the landlord or property manager. Tenants pay for their own screening, whether that is a background check, credit report, or both. Highlights of the Cozy.co service:

  • No setup or membership fees
  • In addition to screening, landlords can collect rent and manage communications through the platform
  • Option to charge tenants for screening service
  • Tenants handle their own personal information
  • Credit results are available instantly and background checks generally take two hours

Landlords can also use Cozy.co to collect rent payments, communicate on maintenance requests, and manage renter’s insurance and rent estimate reports.

5. MyRental

MyRental is owned by CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, and although the company doesn’t use live screeners to verify information, their database has seven layers of quality control. It offers basic and premium packages, or you can purchase most reports a la carte without committing to a package. Highlights of MyRental:

  • Results typically available within an hour
  • A la carte pricing
  • Database is constantly updated
  • Efficient customer service

MyRental also gives each applicant a “Safe Rent Score” and a “Landlord Acceptance Rate.”

6. RentSafe

Designed by property managers, RentSafe offers a straightforward, user-friendly platform for both landlords and prospective tenants. In addition to tenant screening, renters can apply online and add co-applicants, co-signers, and references as well as upload any supporting documentation. Highlights of Rent Safe:

  • Easy-to-use software
  • Designed by property managers
  • Customized dashboard for renters and landlords
  • Real-time results
  • 5-Star, 24/7 Customer Support
  • Accessible on any device


Documents or other information uploaded by the prospective tenant are available for the landlord to review immediately, making the process more streamlined and less stressful. 

The benefit of most services is that you’ll be able to manage multiple applicants within one easy-to-use platform. Whichever service you choose, know that you’re handling personal information, so make sure you keep it as secure as possible.

An Online Platform that Gives Property Managers an Edge

Rent Safe simplifies every aspect of tenant applications and screening, making the process more transparent and organized for renters and landlords alike. Contact Rent Safe today if you’re ready to take your entire application process online to make it faster and easier.

Tenant Screening Software for Property Managers

A Landlord’s Guide to Tenant Screening

A Landlord’s Guide: How to Screen Tenants to Avoid Problem Renters

Landlords rely on collecting the rent every month to keep their businesses in the black. Tenants who don’t pay the rent hurt monthly cash flows, and continued missed payments can force the landlord to start a lengthy and expensive foreclosure process. Unscrupulous tenants may also damage or even steal from the property. 

How can landlords safeguard themselves, their properties, and their bottom line from this risk? The solution is simple: They need to carefully screen tenants to ensure they only rent to responsible, high-quality prospects. This guide takes you through the critical steps of how to screen tenants and gives you tips on how to avoid common pitfalls along the way — all with the goal of helping you become a better landlord.

Why Landlords Need to Screen Tenants

Landlords provide tenants with extremely valuable assets in exchange for the promise of monthly payments. Your tenant gives you a month’s rent and a deposit before moving in, but in exchange, you hand them the keys to a home or apartment that is likely to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. You need to ensure you’re protected in this transaction.

A rental arrangement should ideally be a win-win for everyone — your tenants pay you rent, and in exchange, they get the use of your property. Unfortunately, the process is not always this streamlined, and unqualified tenants can cause a host of problems, such as:

Financial Losses

Tenants who don’t pay the rent reduce your cash flow. That may leave you unable to cover the mortgage payment or may face personal financial issues.

Property Damage

Renting to irresponsible people who throw wild parties, punch holes in the walls, ruin carpets, or potentially even cause structural damage can lead to significant financial losses

Upset Neighbors

Loud, dirty, disrespectful tenants also upset neighbors. That can force you to deal with a barrage of complaint calls or hurt your reputation as a property owner. 

Quality tenants should not burden you with any of these issues. To protect your properties and your budget, you need to understand how to screen tenants effectively. 

Powerful Tenant Screening Software for Renters

How To Screen Tenants

You need to find the best tenants possible when trying to fill a vacancy, but that’s easier said than done. You want someone who is going to pay the rent, take care of the property, and respect the neighbors. Following these steps will help you find these kinds of high-quality prospects:

1. Set minimum requirements for your tenants

Take some time to think about your ideal tenants. You want renters who can afford the property and have a proven track record of paying their bills on time. You may want to define a minimum credit score, require a certain income level, ban smokers or pet owners, or create other requirements.

2. Establish an application process

Decide on an application process that is based on those minimum requirements. What do you want to know about your tenants? Draft an application form requesting the key details you need. 

3. Do a background check

Not everyone is going to be completely honest on their application, unfortunately, and to get a clearer picture of potential tenants, you need to do a background check to look for criminal activity or other red flags.

4. Run a credit check

A credit check will show you how responsible prospective tenants are about paying their bills, and this information can be critical to your decision. 

5. Contact previous landlords

A lot of information doesn’t appear on reports from the major credit bureaus, but talking to previous landlords can help to fill in the gaps. Try to make sure you’re talking to legitimate landlords — unscrupulous applicants often give out phone numbers of friends who will lie for them.

6. Contact employers

Contact your applicants’ employers to check on income levels. They can verify employment status and help reassure you that the tenant can afford the rent.

7. Invest in a tenant screening platform

Taking care of all these steps on your own can be expensive and time-consuming. Consider streamlining the process with tenant screening software to save time and money. High-quality screening software allows you to send electronic applications to tenants and run background and credit checks from a single application. 

Requiring applicants to submit to a stringent screening process will help you identify the best tenants and reduce the risk of financial losses, property damage, and lawsuits. The result will be a property that is more peaceful, more profitable, and less stressful for the landlord.

Common Mistakes With Tenant Screening

An unscreened tenant may move out without notice, turn off the heat, and let your pipes burst. They may allow their pets to damage your property. They may refuse to pay the rent and force you into a months-long foreclosure process. 

A screening process can help you avoid these risks, but you need to ensure you don’t make any of these common mistakes when deciding how to undertake it:

  • Forgetting to ask for a photo ID
  • Not requiring an application
  • Failing to verify the information on the application
  • Not verifying the identity of previous landlords
  • Allowing people with low credit scores or violent records to slip through the screening process
  • Not investing in tools to help


The right tools can help you avoid these common pitfalls in the screening process, and they can make it easier to identify the best tenants for your rentals. Think of selecting tenants as if you’re hiring an employee or bringing a new person into the family. You need to make your choice carefully so you don’t get damaged by poor work habits or toxic behavior down the road.

Contact an Expert to Optimize Your Tenant Screening Process

If you are ready to eliminate the risk of low-quality tenants and want to protect your properties and your bottom line, then Rent Safe may be the solution for you. Our platform enables you to easily create a tenant application and screening process. Your applicants can add co-signers, share references, upload documents, and more, and the customized dashboard provides convenient access to all the information you need. To learn more, contact us today. 

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