When you’re screening tenants for your Dallas/Fort Worth rental property, you’re going to check credit and criminal histories, verify employment and income, and talk to landlord references. As you’re going through your process, you want to pay attention to any red flags that get your attention. The tenants may have an explanation for these issues, but trust the data and the facts. Emotional responses have no place in the tenant screening process.
Red Flag: Past Evictions
If a tenant has an eviction from 25 years ago and a recent record of excellent rental experiences, you’re probably fine. However, an eviction in the last five or 10 years should cause you some concern. It’s a good idea to check national eviction records so you know for sure that your applicant has never been removed from a property for lack of payment or other lease violations. Tenants often have multiple opportunities to solve the problem – eviction is almost always a last resort. So, if their rental history reveals that they got to that point recently, you may want to re-consider renting to them.
Red Flag: Unpaid Housing Debts
Maybe there aren’t any evictions on an applicant’s record, but a credit check reveals that they owe $5,000 to an apartment community. That’s a huge red flag. It means they probably didn’t pay rent for several months or they left an excessive amount of property damage after moving out. Ask the applicant for an explanation, and if you find they have an acceptable story to tell, you might want to collect a larger deposit just to cover your risk. Some landlords will require that outstanding debt to be paid before they’ll be approved for the property.
Red Flag: Sketchy Landlord References
Talking to current and former landlords is an excellent way to get an idea of how a tenant has behaved in the past. If your applicant doesn’t provide contact information, doesn’t give you permission to contact former landlords, or tries to give you the phone number of a friend or family member – you should pay attention. Former and current landlords can tell you if rent was paid on time, if any property damage was left behind, and if there were pets who were well-behaved. When a tenant doesn’t want you talking to landlords, it’s a huge red flag.
Red Flag: Income Cannot be Verified
You want to make sure your tenants can afford the rent before you approve their application. When you ask how much they earn on the application, ask for verifiable documentation. This is usually a pay stub. Or, you can contact the employer and ask for salary information. If your applicants refuse to provide this documentation, it’s a problem. If they are retired or self-employed, you can ask for tax returns or bank statements. Demonstrating income should not be a problem for qualified tenants.
These are just a few of the red flags that may show up during your tenant screening process. If you need help finding a great tenant or you have questions about property management in Dallas and Fort Worth, please contact us at McCaw Property Management. We’d love to be your resource.