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Bellevue Property Management How-To: Tenant Screening

Tenant screening is one of the most crucial aspects of property management. A thorough background check is the most important element in determining whether or not an applicant may be a good tenant. If you find that someone doesn’t pay their bills on time, it’s easy to believe that they may not pay their rent on time either. A tenant who did significant damage to a prior rental property is definitely not going to be a good candidate. Qualified tenants will have a reliable and verifiable source of income and a stable job history. A criminal background check is always necessary.

Criteria for Tenancy
Criteria for tenancy will basically outline what an owner’s requirements are for the qualified rental of property. Your criteria should include the following:

– Income criteria
– Employment requirements
– Credit criteria
– Criminal criteria

You must make these criteria available to any prospective tenant to review prior to submitting an application. You must apply it consistently to all applicants. The purpose is to allow people to determine whether they are qualified before they submit an application. It will save them the application fee if they know they won’t be approved based on your criteria, and it will save you the time of screening them.

Background Checks
It’s a good idea to have your screening done by a professional property management company with more resources available to access background checks. Many property managers use an outside screening company, which speeds up the process and produces more reliable results.

People icons with a magnifying glass over oneFair Housing
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion and sex. In 1988, the Fair Housing Amendments were passed and expanded the law to include disability and familial status. Individual cities may have their own fair housing regulations which expand those protected classes. For example in Bellevue, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to tenants receiving financial assistance (Section 8 housing vouchers and certificates) if they meet all other criteria. Protect yourself from inadvertently violating these laws by letting a property management help you with your screening. In many cases, applicants who know they will not pass a thorough screening seek out properties rented out by individual landlords because they believe those landlords won’t screen as carefully. Don’t be charmed by a nice car, expensive clothes and all the right answers to your questions. Be thorough and look for documentation.

If you have any questions, or you need help with your screening process, please contact us at Brink Property Management.

Posted by: brinkpm on February 5, 2015