Here are 12 prospective tenant screening red flags for landlords to review because finding great tenants when the rental market is flooded with people who need need housing may tempt you to relax your expectations.
When I asked Investigative Screening and Consulting they highly recommend looking for criminal convictions, rental evictions and credit.
Be prepared to only receive a pass or fail return on a specific credit range because the new FCRA standards do not allow independent rental owners to simply obtain a full credit report. However, if you can obtain a credit score range plus a nationwide criminal and eviction search you will feel pretty confident about the people occupying your rental.
When you do your tenant screening, be sure to require two previous landlords because a current landlord may want a tenant to move the but the previous landlord is likely to be honest about their tenancy.
Here are 12 potential tenant screening red flags
1. The person who needs to move right now
The truck is outside and they want to move-in today.
2. The person who’s living with a friend or relative
Ask for copy of utility bill to prove the address.
If not, chances are pretty good they’re not living there and you’re not getting the full story.
3. They leave blanks on the application
There should be no blanks on the application.
Indicates they’re unwilling to provide information. Allowing blanks for one tenant and not another is a Fair Housing violation.
4. Tenant who agrees with everything the landlord says
Maybe they seem too eager and it causes you to wonder why?
5. Tries to impress you with expensive personal affects like a watch, clothing or jewelry
They don’t need to impress you with material items but rather with a clean criminal background, no evictions and a good rental reference from their last landlord.
6. Willing to take anything you have available
Everyone has particular living space they want, so why are they so eager to take yours?
7. Find ways to show you they’re a “nice person”
Initiating conversation about you.
Commenting about your car or photos of your children or grandchildren.
8. Easy answers to questions
When a person is telling the truth they are easily able to answer simple questions about their job, current living situation and reason for moving. If they stumble over their own words or give a partial explanation you should be concerned.
9. Do they ask about criminal records?
If they ask about criminal records and eviction (and not just credit), they probably have a record they don’t want you to see.
10. Ask to see ID
Watch for fake IDs, passport or driver’s license. They need to show you their state issued identification or driver’s license. If you don’t know what these documents look like, visit the state government website.
11. Criminal records
Criminal records on an tenant are a huge red flag. They may tell you they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Check the investigate screening report before making your decision.
12. Does everything add up?
Take a look at all of the pieces of information and if something doesn’t “add up”, review the materials, ask the private investigator if you used RentPerfect’s screening or don’t rent to them.
It’s your property and your job to do tenant screening. As long as you follow the local landlord/tenant laws and fair housing laws you can decide to accept or reject tenants based on pre-established tenant screening criteria. Good luck and remember to screen EVERY applicant!