One of the most crucial tasks of a landlord is screening tenants. Any landlord worth his salt would have to make sure that any bad tenant would not be occupying the rental property. If you are a landlord and you plan to take on property management tasks on your own, you might think that you can just trust your gut in screening potential tenants.
Two things you have to keep in mind if you want to trust your instinct in picking tenants: first it does not work and the second thing is that it is illegal. Why? Because laws regarding tenancy requires the landlord to treat everyone equally and that means you cannot throw out an application based on a person’s appearance or vibes.
That said, it is vital that you stay within the limits of the law by having a criteria for accepting and rejecting applications. It is also very important that these criteria will be applied uniformly. Every landlord should have a written policy. No matter what happens, it is important that you stick to your policy without exception. It is the reason why in an agreement with property manager, the management company would forbid the rental property owner from getting tenants without them going through the screening process.
To make sure that you do not run afoul of the law and to avoid any possible legal complaint, when rejecting an application based on data you gathered through the screening process, be transparent. This means that you should tell the rejected applicants why their applications were dismissed.
Another thing you can do to keep complaints at bay is to keep applications for several years. This is so that you can prove when prodded that you are applying your tenant screening policy fairly. If you are going to discard any application, make sure that you shred or destroy them properly especially those with sensitive information like Social Security numbers.
Landlord-tenant laws would vary from state to state so it is important that you study the laws regarding your business. Keep in mind that some states’ legislation about tenancy lean towards the advantage of landlords while some are more in favor of tenants. The state of California for example has laws with more advantages to tenants.
For a rental property business to succeed, it is important that you abide by the laws. If you are not sure about where to start, you can always hire the services of a property management company since they would be well-versed when it comes to issues about tenancy.