Selecting your next tenant requires a thorough screening process, and at McCaw Property Management, we believe it boils down to the 80/20 rule. In our experience, 80 percent of your problems can be eliminated by picking the right tenant. What we have seen is that a lot of landlords will pick someone who has enough income and no criminal history, and the screening process stops there. We do things differently.
Having tenants fill out an online application gives you immediate access to all their data. You can take this information and run it through a tenant reporting service or a credit reporting service. National Tenant Network is a good service, and you can find it online by searching for NTN Online. We use our own system but NTN is good for do-it-yourself landlords. Put all the applicant’s information in, click the go button and the results will come back green or red. Green means you should approve them to rent and red means you shouldn’t. A lot of landlords and even apartment complexes get these results and then make their final decision right then and there. We take a few extra steps.
Our process is to take the information that we get and we compare it to the application. We look at addresses, and where they have lived for the last five years to see if the information matches their background check. Then, we look at income and check W2 paystubs. If an applicant is self-employed, we check tax records. You want to know how long they have worked somewhere. If your documentation doesn’t add up to several months of income, they probably just started a job or haven’t been there long.
Check landlord references. This is the most important thing you can do in the screening process. We recommend you talk to the two most recent references. Make sure proper notice was given to current landlord. Compare landlord references to tax records so you can be sure you’re speaking to the actual landlord, and not some friend or family member. This is where people lie on their applications the most.
Look for any discrepancies and lies, and if you can’t find them, you have found a good tenant. So do the standard background and criminal history checks, then dig deeper into income, employment and references.
If you need any help screening your tenants, please contact us at McCaw Property Management.