When you lease your Winston Salem home, you need to employ an effective screening process to ensure that your valuable asset is handled properly. Stringent screening helps you find tenants who are responsible, pay the rent on time, and keep the property in good condition. Such renters also tend to stay longer, lowering the vacancy rate of your house.
Here are some tips to effectively screen tenants for your Winston Salem property.
Prepare a Screening Checklist
Tenant screening is an extensive procedure, especially if there are many potential candidates. At such times, preparing a checklist that includes all your major requirements can help in streamlining the process. Some of the critical items that you can consider adding to your checklist are:
- Setting the criteria for potential renters
- Making a list of questions to ask in the pre-screening process
- Inquiring about the candidates with the previous landlords and employers
- Conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the renter’s background
Set your Standards
To find a renter who meets your requirements, you need to have a set of standards fixed in your mind. For example, some of these could be to have,
- A tenant with an income that is at least three times the amount of the rent
- A tenant who has not been previously evicted for lease violations
- A candidate with a minimum credit score of around 600-650, stable employment, and no criminal history
- A tenant with or without pets
Do not lower your bar or settle for anyone who doesn’t fit the criteria, as you might have to face tenant issues like late payments, non-compliance with the lease, disturbing the neighbors, or other unacceptable behavior.
Pre-screen the Candidates
Pre-screening is an easy way to screen only the candidates who meet your requirements. You can set your rent price in the ads, marketing, or in the listings. Renters who are unsure of the affordability will opt out in the initial stage. The ones in the process can be asked to fill a form that includes their professional details, eviction history, credit history, and other information.
You can pre-screen these tenants on a phone call, during which you can ask several questions to know:
- When would they like to move-in
- Do they have any pets
- How many people would be occupying the property
- Their reason for relocation
- Their personal habits (whether they smoke, consume substances, etc.)
This helps you narrow down your list of candidates and screen only those who are a good fit for your Winston Salem Property.
Conduct a Thorough Background Check
A thorough background check is crucial to determine if the tenant is reliable. The critical elements of a background check are:
- Employment Validation
If the applicants don’t earn enough, they will not be able to pay rent on time. You need to confirm if your potential renter is currently employed. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) adjudicates that the renters who spend over 30% of their gross income on rent are housing-cost burdened. Hence, your applicant’s gross monthly income should be at least three times the monthly rent amount.
- Tenant Credit History
The applicant’s credit history makes it very easy for you to understand if they will be able to pay the rent on time.
- Identity Proof
You should ask the applicant for proof of identity and verify the information mentioned on their state-issued driver’s license, passport, and Social Security Card.
- Eviction History
It is crucial to know if the applicant has been evicted from the previous property for non-payment of rent, damaging the property, or ill behavior. If yes, chances are it might happen again.
- Criminal History
In order to ensure the safety of your property and neighborhood, you need to do a criminal background check. However, note that you need a signed consent form from your applicant to do so.
Abide By Fair Housing Laws
While screening the tenants for your Winston Salem rental, you must abide by the state and the local laws. The Fair Housing Laws in North Carolina state that a landlord cannot discriminate against a tenant based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability. Violation of Fair Housing laws has serious legal repercussions.
Conducting a screening process on your own may be difficult as you need to gather a lot of information about your rental candidates. In such a scenario, you can consult a property management agency as they can simplify this process to a great extent.
Our professionals at Capstone Realty Consultants have extensive expertise in conducting rigorous and fair tenant screenings for Winston Salem properties and can effectively assist you in the process. For more information, connect with us.