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Do's and Dont's of Tenant Selection
Take your time screening tenants. This is an important choice that should not be made hastily in order to have your home occupied. Rushing into a lease may lose you more money in the long run.
Decide on a sufficient amount of rent to income ratio. A good rule of thumb is the tenant must make three times the amount of money he will be paying for rent.
Obey Fair Housing Laws. Base your decision on credit history, debt/income ratios, and past rental histories. Do not discriminate based on race, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status or sexual orientation.
Discuss all requirements with prospective tenants when they call. This saves you time in the long run.
Do not ask questions, such as a person's age, or marital status. Rejected tenants may become angry, and later use discrimination as the basis of your rejection.
Make sure you confirm your appointment time with the prospective tenant the day of the meeting at the rental property. Many landlords waste a great deal of time traveling to the rental property to meet with clients that never show up.
Collect an application fee from the prospective tenant. The average fee is $35.00. This covers the cost of your credit report and reference checks.
Ask prospective tenants to complete a rental application. You may also request a rental application to be faxed to you at no charge. Make sure your application includes information, such as name, address, employment, rental history, social security number, driver's license and references. Make sure your rental application authorizes a credit check.
Beware of tenants who flash money and want to rent immediately. Always take time to verify the information on their application.
Always check references, collect the full deposit, and the first month's rent before move-in. If the tenant moves any belongings into the property, he has taken possession. If rejected, he might have to be evicted.
Verify income and employment. Some employers require written authorization from the employee before they can release the information. If this process takes too much time, ask for pay stubs. Get copies of tax returns if an individual is self-employed.
Verify rental history, or have the association check them for you. Call the previous landlord. However, do not base your decision to rent on this call. Many times, the landlord listed is a friend of the tenant and not a landlord at all.
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