Welcome back to Part 2 of Who is a Perfect Tenant. My name is Jenna Robertson and I am representing a property management company out of Tyler, Texas, CrossPointe Management Group. We just came back from a National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) convention In Orlando, Florida and we have a lot of interesting information which we want to share with you overtime from that trip. Today, we’re doing part two of our tenant screening blog. If you haven’t seen the first part of this series on finding the perfect tenant, we encourage you to check it out.
Landlord Check: Screening Process
First and foremost, always make sure you are charging applicants an application fee. We charge around $50 per adult. This fee lets you know the prospective tenants are serious and covers your time to process and your resources to screen them. It also weeds out people who are applying but not necessarily ready to move at the time. At the end of the day, no one wants to waste $50 or $100 on something where they will not be receiving anything in return.
Checking the Credit Report
We encourage setting a credit score requirement up front. We require a credit score of at least a 580. Anyone who does not reach that credit score can get a conditional approval depending on how much lower their credit is from the 580. They also have to pay an additional deposit if we work out a conditional approval. We have found that if tenants are not willing to pay their bills and they owe $3,000 to Walmart, etc., we worry that they won’t be interested in paying rent on time either. We also recommend pull the credit report from one of the large credit bureaus, which are Transunion, Experian, and Equifax.
At CrossPointe, we check for felony records, misdemeanors/bankruptcies in the last year, and any history of violence or evictions. This will show you want kind of tenant you’re getting. Bankruptcies must be older than a year as well as any misdemeanors. Eviction searches are also important. If they have an eviction, it shows you they did not care about their lease term previously, so why would they care currently? Either they didn’t pay on time or they had lease violations. You never know what someone’s past history is, so definitely check for evictions on any applicant’s background.
Reaching out to an applicant’s previous landlord is one of the most important parts of our screening process. We call current landlords and ask them to fill out a rental history form. Landlords love to talk about problem tenants and good tenants. So, this is a good way to find out if a tenant paid on time previously, ever damaged the property, or had unauthorized pets.
Always set strict pet policy rules. The last thing you want is to find out you have two Great Danes living in the property. We limit our pets to two per property. Cats have to be declawed, and we don’t allow puppies or kittens. You don’t want to have to replace carpet or sheetrock or repair walls if you do not have to. We also don’t allow animals over 20 pounds, which will help you maintain your interior condition. Smaller pets do not cause as much damage as large animals. In conclusion, no one wants a problem tenant, so spend extra time talking to tenants and getting to know who they are before entering into a binding agreement with them.