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ness_house keyWhen managing a property, you should always conduct a thorough tenant screening prior to the approval of a new tenant. Although it may feel like a tedious process, it will spare you from a host of avoidable problems by ruling out high risk tenants that can lead to unwanted expenses or evictions. Below are a few imperative steps to integrate into the application process before welcoming a new tenant to your rental property.

Include Relevant References

References are essential. They provide insight on the applicant’s character and trending behaviors. Is he or she reliable? Timely in their payments? Responsible? Start by contacting their previous landlord. Prepare a list of open-ended questions that will reveal the applicant’s reputation as a tenant. More often than not, his or her past behavior will foreshadow what you’ll experience in the future, so be thorough and ask for details.

Contact the applicant’s employer to verify his or her active employment, the duration of active employment and the current salary he or she is receiving. Request a copy of one of his or her pay stub to support this information. The applicant’s gross salary should be at least 3 times the monthly rent in order to qualify for rental.

Run a Background Check

Reference testimonies won’t reveal everything. Background checks will tell you whether or not an applicant will pay their dues on time and serve as a respectful tenant you can rely on to take care of the rented property.  Make it a part of the application process to run criminal, credit and eviction reports on prospect tenants. If the report confirms that he or she meets the established credit standards then you know they have a history of meeting their financial obligations. Clean criminal and eviction reports will reveal a track record that supports reliability and responsibility.

Screen for Pets

People may not be the only tenants wanting to move in. Despite the fact that many rental properties and associations do not allow pets, fifty to seventy percent of renters have them. Make sure you screen for pets of any sort as they increase the risk of damages to your property.

If you choose to allow tenants to have pets, create a specific list of rules and regulations to minimize your risks. Limitations can include breed, age, number, size and behavioral history of permitted pets. Part of this process could include meeting the pet to ensure it is not an aggressive animal that can pose a danger to neighbors or their pets.

Many rental properties include a pet fee on top of the base rent to cover added wear and tear they leave on the property. Consult with your lawyer before writing this in to the contract as it could work against you in a legal case.

Regardless of whether you charge more or not, it is important to include an addendum that places liability on the tenant should certain damages or incidents be incurred by the animal.

Don’t Forget Other Factors

If your property is a part of a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) with specific rules and regulations, you will want to make sure your tenant’s comply with these standards prior to accepting the application to avoid any conflicts. Your tenant can have a clean record and a great financial background, but if he or she drives a vehicle that is against the HOA’s policies, then it may not be a practical fit.

Managing rental properties involves a lot of steps and legal processes. If you are merely a property owner looking to rent out a home or condo, consider handing the stress over to a property manager experienced in this field. If you aren’t sure where to start, contact us. Ness Property Management Group Inc. serves a large portion of south Florida, including Fort Myers, Naples, Lehigh Acres, West Palm Beach, Homestead and Miami.