The first thing you have to do is remember that if you put an ad on Craigslist or someplace like that, you will get calls from all types of people. So, you want to have some paper next to you as well as the application that you will have prospective tenants fill out. Over the phone, you will want to go down the application and ask your callers some of the most important questions. For example, ask where they work, how long they have been in their job, why they are moving, what kind of income they have. You want to make sure this person meets your minimum requirements, particularly when it comes to income. At Portola Property Management, we look for a gross income that is at least three times the rent. Ask these things up front; including how many occupants will be living in the place. Remember that you cannot ask if they have children. That is against fair housing laws.
After you screen them over the phone and they sound like potentially good tenants, you can schedule an appointment for them to view the property. See what they are like while they walk through the place. You want tenants who will treat the place with respect. As you walk them out, take a look at their car. This is an insider professional property management tip that I am sharing with you: the condition of their car is a good indication of how they will treat your home. Does it look like they are living in their car? It does not need to be a new car, but it does need to be clean.
As you go through your screening process, always do a thorough background check. Completing your due diligence is important, and you need to check out all the information listed on the application to verify it. When it comes to checking references, be vigilant. For example, do not call up the employer and ask if the person works there. Instead, call up the number listed for the employer and say “this person is applying to rent a home from me, and you are listed as a reference. How do you know this person?” This will help you identify dishonest applicants because if the person you are calling has been coached and cannot remember if he is supposed to be the employer, the landlord or someone else, you will know that this is not a tenant you want to accept.
If you have any questions about tenant screening or anything else related to property management, please contact us at Portola Property Management.