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Quick Guide to Effective Tenant Screening in Kansas City

Did you know, that an average eviction can cost a landlord up to $3500? Landlords have a lot on their plates. They have to maintain their properties, collect rent, and screen potential tenants, among other tasks!

As a landlord, you know how hard it is to find good tenants who pay rent on time and treat your property with respect. Fortunately, finding great tenants doesn’t always have to be a challenge! 

We’ve put together this quick guide to help you screen your tenants more effectively. This article will help you find the best tenants for your properties and help you avoid dealing with any problems down the line. Let’s get started!

Where to Look For Tenants

The first step in your search for tenants is to decide who you want to rent to. Do you own a single-family home or an apartment building? Do you want to rent out the entire property or just a room? Will your property be a primary residence or a vacation rental?

Each of these questions will help you narrow down your target tenant demographic!

Once you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for in a tenant, it’s time to start searching. Here are some places you can look:

Online Rental Websites

Sites like Zillow and Craigslist can be great resources for finding potential renters. You’ll have access to thousands of people looking for properties in your area, making it easier to find someone interested in your rental space.

Local Real Estate Agents

Real Estate Agents have access to many different rental listings. They can help match up the right tenants with the right property owners. They also know what kind of fees landlords typically charge in your area, so they can help negotiate on your behalf when necessary.

Professional Network

If you don’t want to work with a real estate agent, consider using your professional network to find tenants. For example, if you’re an accountant or attorney working with small businesses in town, ask your clients if they know anyone looking for a place to live.

a property manager in a black suit reaches across the contract and pen laying on their desk to shake a landlords hand

Ultimately, the onus is on landlords to know what kind of tenants their property will attract and how to screen renters to ensure they meet their high standards. The best bet for landlords is to engage the services of reputable property management companies that are more familiar with the area’s property market.

Create Your Tenant Screening Criteria

Tenant screening criteria are the information you gather to determine whether or not a potential tenant will be able to pay the rent on time and follow the terms of the lease. You can create your tenant screening criteria by asking certain questions and validating that information.

As a landlord, you want to know what information is available about potential tenants. Still, you also need to know that the information you receive is accurate and reliable.

Here’s how you can create your tenant screening criteria:

  • Determine what information you need from each applicant
  • Decide how much time you want to spend gathering information from applicants (i.e., do you want to review applications in-person or over the phone?) 
  • Create a list of questions for each applicant that will help determine if they qualify as a good tenant (i.e., income verification, employment verification, credit check) 
  • Research online resources that may be able to provide answers based on your criteria (i.e., credit bureaus
  • Create an application form that asks all of your questions

a property manager sits in a bright yellow armchair she has a long ponytail and wears a black blazer and white camisole while reviewing a tenant application

By using your tenant screening criteria, you can verify whether potential tenants are suitable for your rental property. This will also help applicants understand their responsibilities as your tenant.

Create a “For Rent “Ad

The first step to finding your best tenant is creating a good ad. This is the first impression you give prospective renters, and it will influence whether they reach out to you or not.

You want your ad to stand out and be precise, so it must include:

A Detailed Property Description

Include information like the size of the unit, amenities available on-site, and whether or not pets are allowed. You can also include any other relevant information, such as whether or not the unit is furnished or if you have parking available, etc.

The Rent Price

Make sure this is clear and easy to read so that any potential tenants know how much they’ll be paying for rent each month.

Your Contact Information

Include your phone number and email address, so interested parties can reach out if they have questions about your property or the application process before applying.

The Amenities

If your property has unique amenities, such as a swimming pool or gym, make sure to include them in your ad. Not only will this help attract rental applicants, but it will also give you an idea of what type of tenant would be interested in living there.

Security

A landlord should ensure that their property has adequate security measures in place, such as CCTV cameras and alarm systems. 

What to Ask and What to Avoid During Tenant Screening

Tenant screening collects information about prospective tenants and assesses their suitability for renting your property. The following questions will help you screen tenants properly.

Do They Have References

If so, check them out. Ask the applicant’s previous landlords or employers if they were on time with payments, if they caused problems with other tenants or neighbors or if they caused damage to the property. 

a property manager with short black hair and a close cropped beard reviews tenant applications at their desk while wearing a yellow crewneck sweater

You can also check with current landlords or employers to check for any other red flags.

How Long Have They Lived at Their Current Address

A tenant who has stayed at one address for several years is more likely to be reliable than one who moves frequently — but there are exceptions to this rule. Don’t automatically reject an otherwise good prospect because they recently moved from a large city to a smaller center!

How Much Money Do They Earn

It may seem odd to ask about a tenant’s income level. Still, it can be helpful when choosing between two qualified applicants who meet all other requirements but differ in salary. If one applicant makes twice as much as another, this can have a huge impact on your choice.

Have They Ever Been Convicted of a Crime

This is a question that landlords should avoid asking prospective tenants. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), asking a tenant if they have ever been convicted of a crime or have been arrested is illegal. 

Moreover, a landlord cannot discriminate against a prospective tenant based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, or disability.

Bottom Line

A good signing authority and thorough tenant screening will help to ensure that you choose the right tenants for your investment properties. Take some time to carefully interview people and check their backgrounds; it will save you time, money, and hassle.

From screening to questioning, everything we have discussed should help you make a well-informed decision regarding your next tenant. If you’re looking for help finding, screening, or managing tenants for your investment property reach out to SCUDO Real Estate & Property Management today! Our team of experts is ready to help you achieve your investment goals!

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