Landlord Procedure Tips for Checking Tenants

Owning rental properties and being a landlord can be the road to riches – or the road to ruin. It all depends on how you handle your business affairs and how well you screen your potential tenants. A great tenant can give you the cash flow you need to meet your financial goals and build your wealth, but a single bad tenant can send your real estate experience into a tailspin. Here are some smart landlord tips for checking tenants and making sure everything goes smoothly.

Don’t Rely on the Word of the Current Landlord Alone

Many people make the mistake of relying solely on the word of the current landlord. If the tenant is a bad one, their current landlord may be looking for a way to unload them, and you could be the unwitting victim. To get a truer picture of your prospective tenant, you should go back a bit further. Get the full rental history of the person you are considering, and check with all their past landlords – you will be glad you did.

Perform a Full Background Check

Performing a background check is an essential part of screening a prospective tenant. Even if everything seems fine and the individual seems great, you should not skip the background check process. You can start your check online by using free resources, but paying for a more extensive screening could be worth your while. The more you know about your potential tenants and their histories, the easier it will be to find the best fit.

Have a Detailed Contract

If your rental contract does not clearly spell out your rules and expectations, you are just asking for trouble. Whether you own a single family home or a slew of apartment buildings, you need to have a detailed rental contract. Even if you do not use an attorney for anything else, it is a good idea to consult legal counsel when creating the rental agreement and contract. A good real estate attorney will be able to guide you and make sure the document protects your interests.

Ask For, and Check, Character References

You can learn a lot from previous landlords, but it is also important to ask for, and check, character references. Talking to the people who know the prospective renter best is one of the best ways to screen would-be tenants and avoid unwanted headaches.

Insist on a Face-to-Face Meeting

Online classifieds are great for finding prospects for your rental, but you should always insist on a face-to-face meeting before handing over the keys. No matter how great the prospective tenant looks on paper, there is no substitute for looking into their eyes. If you get a bad vibe from the prospective tenant, it is time to do some more digging. Trust your gut instincts – if something seems wrong it probably is. Being a landlord can be very rewarding, allowing you to build your wealth and create cash flow through your real estate holdings. But before you can start cashing those rent checks you need to check out prospective tenants and weed out the bad apples. The tips listed above can help you do just that.  

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