For many property owners, the first and most critical question is whether to go down the self-management or professional management route. Unfortunately, there's much more to being a property...
Should Property Owners Choose Their Renters? Tenant Screening Tips
Choosing residents to fill your investment property is one of the most significant decisions real estate investors can make. While many property owners may want to do it themselves, this process can lead to issues down the line, such as property damage and even the dreaded and drawn-out eviction process.
Unfortunately, it's challenging to be objective. While property investors may think they know how to pick good residents for their property, it is often best left to the professionals. Not to mention the pile-up of tasks from tenant screening services to income verification, it can be a nightmare process.
That's why in today's blog, we'll be diving into the tenancy screening process, looking at how a professional property manager deals with the exercise, and why most property investors are better off soliciting the services of an experienced property manager to take charge.
The Issue of Property Owners Finding Their Own Residents
Choosing the right residents for your real estate investment property is complex. While many property owners would like to be a part of the process, it's often best to put it entirely in the hands of a professional and provide some preferences instead.
As a property owner, you might have:
- An incorrect idea of what makes a good renter
- Internal biases and conflicts that influence your decision
- Preferences such as "I want someone like me" (that could lead to discrimination)
- A general lack of experience
- A tendency to rent to friends or family can lead to conflicts
- Emotional attachments that lead to poor decision making
Therefore, property owners can choose the wrong renters without expert guidance, conduct an unfair screening process, or even violate Fair Housing laws (sometimes unintentionally).
As discussed, locating quality residents is time-intensive and quite heavy on research and documentation. Because of this, we're sharing the "MHN Rubric," our insider system for finding quality tenants for our managed properties.
The MHN Property Rubric for Finding Tenants
We're sharing the top insider tips for how we manage to find quality tenants from rental applicants as a leading San Antonio property management group. When seeking potential residents, property management companies or property owners must do a tenant screening process incorporating several research steps.
Rental Verification History
This process involves contacting owners of properties previously occupied by potential renters. This step helps confirm the rental history as outlined on the application and asks any additional follow-up questions to verify the information.
Usually, the questions are related to the state of the property during the period of occupancy, whether rent was paid on time, and if any issues or complaints were lodged against the residents.
Job or Employment Status
Putting residents in your property without ongoing work would be hazardous to your bottom line! Therefore, through verifiable sources, we always check for jobs and employment history at MHN Properties.
Checking verifiable income is one of the key ways to ensure a future resident is working and able to cover the rent. This is usually achieved by asking for proof of pay stubs (usually for at least three months prior) or a W-2 form and tax return.
A credit check is standard for a rental application and a follow-up. Credit history can be provided by the potential resident or sourced through an online application to generate a credit report. A particular focus on debt and involvement in any legal issues should be top of the list as it can indicate if there will be any future payment issues.
Background screening can involve anything from reaching out to references provided by the prospective tenant to checking criminal history or legal issues through a criminal background check.
This step is used to understand whether an applicant or applicants would be a good fit for your property and is a summary of the property management tenant screening process.
What Happens When You Go Through a Property Management Group
As property managers, we want all rental property owners to be happy with who they have in their properties. Some of the benefits of using a professional management group when tenant screening include:
- A reduction in the risk of violating laws: For example, many legal issues may come into play when looking for potential residents. In addition, property investors not up to date with the required landlord-tenant laws (including the Fair Credit Reporting Act) may risk punitive legal action, such as a discrimination lawsuit.
- Likelihood of finding a quality resident: Due to the experience and tight process outlined above, you're more likely to find a quality resident through an established management group more quickly and effectively.
- Reduced vacancy times: A property manager knows what signs to look for to lock down long-term residents to reduce vacancies and increase your returns.
- Property managers know the red flags: While it may be helpful to understand how to process a rental application, it's another thing to see the warning signs of a bad tenant on an application. A property management group knows the red flags and patterns to look for to screen out potentially troublesome renters.
- Property managers work with you: Of course, property managers work with you on an agreed-upon set of criteria before starting the process to ensure no unhappy surprises at the end!
Choosing the wrong renter can be a costly mistake that's hard to fix until the end of the lease or without going through an eviction process. You might think that you want to be involved in choosing renters, but we can tell you that the reality of what's required for the process is not something you want to be doing, especially for a first-time property investor.
Use a Trusted San Antonio Property Management Company When Finding Tenants
Locating quality renters that will look after your property, abide by regulations, and pay rent on time is the aim of every rental application process. It's one of your most significant steps as a property investor!
While some property owners may like to find tenants on their own, the legal and technical knowledge, paperwork, and lack of experience can sometimes lead to the wrong renters being placed and financial issues down the line.
If you've recently bought an investment property or want to start thinking about filling your property with renters, then reach out to the team at MHN Properties today. We're skilled at maximizing the income of our property owners through thorough tenant screening to make your investment as smooth and easy as possible.