Possibly more important than anything else is a prospective Resident(s) credit history. There are many credit checking companies online that you can use to check your future Resident(s) credit history. Before you check a prospective Resident(s) credit make sure you get a signed authorization form allowing you to access their information. On the credit report look for a history of late or delinquent payments (especially to landlords), bankruptcies, collections and high unpaid balances. Finding a tenant with a credit score of 600 or above is highly recommended. Be aware that if you deny an applicant based off of their credit report there are certain Fair Credit Reporting Act guidelines you will have to follow. The cost to to run a Resident(s) Background check is NO COST to, you, the landlord. Beyond that, please have a checklist of uniform criteria and standards you want each Resident(s) to meet. Be very clear about what data you are basing your rental decisions on and you need to share this with your Rental Rep.
Our guidelines at Twin Cities Leasing are as followed:
Background Check – Similar to a credit check, a background check can give you information into a prospective Resident(s) past. We, will provide you a detailed background check for you that will include, proof of income, where they have lived and their personal information (with limitations of what we can send).
Pets – Depending upon the type of property and size you may or may not want to allow pets. Certain dogs and cats typically don’t do too much harm to a property, however you’ll want to be very wary of any potential Resident(s) with puppies or large dogs. Puppies frequently chew and can do substantial damage to carpets and floors. Large dogs tend to do more harm than smaller ones and can also do substantial damage to lawns. If you decide not to allow pets keep in mind 75% of people who rent have pets. Think about all your family and friends who have pets. If you say no pets, you will close the window to how many people will be able to live in your home. Please note: Service animals are not considered pets and may be allowed at the property, subject to federal, state and local fair housing laws. We, do require proof of service animals to protect you, the landlord.
Smoking – Smoking can have lasting effects on your investment property – even after Resident(s) who smoke move out it may be difficult to get the smell of smoke out of the carpets and walls. It will be even harder to get new Resident(s) to move in if the first thing they smell when touring the property is cigarette smoke. You have the right to ask a prospective Resident(s) if anyone that will be living at the property is a smoker and deny them based on whether or not they smoke.
Social Media – Everybody has a Facebook page and an Instagram page, a Twitter account, and half a dozen other social media presences. For landlords, social media has the potential to provide verification of information provided on applications as well as a glimpse into how they might be as Resident(s). However, it’s also a field full of potential landmine issues with fair housing. There are important things to remember when using social media to screen Resident(s).
Check the same social sites for every applicant Every applicant should be treated the same, so check the same sites for each potential renter. There are people who feel that conducting a little social media research is a violation of privacy. But if their accounts are public, that information is fair game to not just you, but potential employers, law enforcement, and grandmothers everywhere.
Document – Fair methods for selecting Resident(s) are nondiscriminatory, well documented and applied uniformly to protect yourself from fair housing complaints. If your research reveals your potential Resident(s) are members of a protected class and you don’t offer them the rental unit, you could be exposing yourself to fair housing complaints and lawsuits. However, if your reasons for selecting different Resident(s) are fair, nondiscriminatory, well-documented, and you applied your screening requirements uniformly, you should be protected.
The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children. Many states, counties and municipalities have additional protected classes. Please feel free to ask your Rental Rep for more details.