As a landlord for over the last 10 years I can tell you I had my share of good tenants and share of some bad tenants, as do all landlords.
Today I want to share with you some ideas and techniques that I use to at least limit the possibility of a bad tenant. In my experience I have encountered on a few occasions where no matter how much time and effort you put in, you just can`t predict the future, and because you can`t you won`t be able to for-see your tenant lose their job resulting in you not getting your rent. Will get to more on that in a moment.
As landlords we use a variety of documents and information obtained from the potential renters application, which brings us to step one, a complete application.
A red light of caution should immediately go off in your head if you get back an incomplete application. What is considered incomplete? The person`s job history should go back at least 5 years. Some say 2, but I require 5. I want to see what they have been up to. Do they jump around from job to job? Or are they stable? Is the industry they are working in stable? In other words, are they busy today only to get laid off tomorrow. Get up to 5 years work history. Obviously if you are looking at a section 8 tenant you might not get that, but we`ll talk about section 8 tenants later.
Look for personal and professional references. Three of each is what should be the minimum, although the application that I use (which I customized), has space for 5 each. it is rare that I get 5, but 90% of the time I will get 3 or 4.
Make sure your application calls for what there current bills are. Do they have a car payment? Alimony or child support (although some states do not allow you to ask this)? As you can see you have to deduct these costs from their income to see whether or not they can afford the property.
Find out why they are leaving their current place. Obtain the contact information for the landlord where they live.
Now that you have all that information, start placing some phone calls. Call the jobs, the references and the previous landlord. Find out what kind of person they are. Keep in mind many states do not allow you to ask personal questions, nor can references tell you that someone is a bad tenant, employee or person. What you are trying to find out is are they reliable. Did they show up to work on time? Is it a person that a personal reference can count on? Is the previous landlord sad to see them move out? That type of information.
Notice I did not mention anything about the credit report. If you, like me, rent in an area, where you have a better chance of hitting the lottery then seeing someone with a halfway decent credit report, then you know the credit report is basically worthless. I would only use a credit report if my choices come down to more than one person or family. Then I would take the best of the bunch.
Armed with all the information above, you should have no problem finding quality tenants and keeping them for a very long time. Remember, the more time and effort you put in prior to moving someone in, the less headaches (and court appearances) you will have later.