Did you know a lot of New Jersey landlords couldn’t evict tenants during the pandemic but chose to sue them? You can avoid the eviction and legal process by perfecting your tenant background check process.

If you want to create a consistent tenant screening process, keep reading. In this guide, you’ll learn what tenant documents you’ll need and how to perform a background check.

Look into tenant screening services if you don’t have the time because you own many properties.

Ready to learn more? Check out the tips below.

1. Choosing to Skip the Screening Process

One mistake a landlord will make is not completing the tenant screening process.

Are you in a bind and need to find a new tenant right away? Don’t focus on rushing through the process of filling your building. A bad tenant could end up costing you lots of money.

Try to get tenants recommended by other tenants. This way, you know the person who will rent your unit. Ensure applicants go through the same screening process.

2. Not Using a Rental Application

Rental applications will help you with the interview process.

Implement pre-screening questions for your applicants. This will save time and ensure qualified candidates go through to the next stage. Don’t show your rental to everyone who calls.

Direct the people to your rental application form. This will help you screen out people you don’t want to rent your space.

You should include some of these questions in your application:

  • What’s your phone number or email?
  • Do you have a verifiable source of income?
  • What’s your move-in date?
  • Will you agree to a background check?

3. Skipping the Credit Report

You should look at checking the credit of your tenants. This will indicate if they pay their debts and bills. You should avoid unpaid debts, late payments, and people who have a low credit score.

Avoid dealing with tenants who can’t pay rent by verifying their income.

4. You Don’t Complete the Background Check

Another mistake people will make is if they forgo the background check. A background check will reveal if someone has a criminal record. Landlords think a credit check will show them everything they need to know.

Try to approach every tenant process case-by-case. You can also look into tenant screening services. They will combine eviction history, background checks, and credit reports.

These cost around 20-40 dollars but are well worth the money.

5. Not Verifying Applicant’s Identities

When you run a credit check or background check, you should always verify the person’s identity.

Ask for photo identification and keep this on their file. If the applicant delays this or isn’t willing, you should look for someone else.

6. You Don’t Interview Candidates

Candidates who apply and pass initial screening should have a phone interview.

You’ll want to ask why they are moving. Do they smoke or will they bring pets? How long they have lived in their previous spot? Will they move with their family or have roommates? Have they ever gotten evicted?

Find out if they can provide you with references from a previous landlord. Do they want a short or long-term lease?

If the interested candidate is looking for a short-term rental, let them know you aren’t a good fit. Ask these questions, and you’ll better understand what tenants are like.

You can save yourself time from showing the rental to someone who actually isn’t a good fit.

7. You Don’t Get Proof of Income

Request proof of income to ensure your remnants can rent out their place each month.

Landlords should always take the time to verify income. Requesting proof of income will save you time selecting a tenant who can’t cover the rental fee.

A bank account statement, a pay stub, or even a note from the person’s employer are proof of income. Look into the tenant’s employment history, as well.

8. You Don’t Check References

Also, a landlord should always check the references a candidate provides them.

Landlords can talk to the references to determine more information about the applicant. This lets you verify if the applicant is actually telling the truth.

You should always get a reference from a previous landlord. Employment references are essential as well.

9. You Aren’t Maintaining a Consistent Screening Process

Landlords will want to go with their gut when screening tenants. But you should try to avoid accepting someone based on your feelings.

Keep your business organized and reputable by using a streamlined tenant screening process. Unqualified tenants could get approved if you don’t stay consistent.

You can also avoid false accusations of discrimination.

10. Not Discussing the Tenant’s Responsibilities

Every decent landlord should go over what they expect from the tenant. Do you want them to clear off snow in the winter or mow the lawn during the summer months?

Will you expect the tenant to give you a month’s notice when they leave? Make sure you have all of this critical information in a package for them.

If you don’t have time to manage tenants, look for a property manager. Find property management businesses in your area today. 

Make Tenant Screening a Breeze

Did you find this guide helpful on tenant screening? When you screen potential tenants, verify their income. Ask for previous references from landlords, and find out how long they want to rent.

Make sure you maintain a consistent tenant screening process. This way, you can find decent tenants and avoid false accusations of discrimination.

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