Many owners are hesitant when thinking about renting their properties to tenants. They feel it is hard to get tenants that take care of the space and pay in time. But the vast majority of tenant problems can be eliminated if you have a good and thorough screening process in place.

This way you will not only rent your space but you will rent it to high quality tenants too.

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So in order to properly screen tenants you just need to follow this 5 easy steps:

STEP 1: Application

This is the very first contact with the tenant and once you are contacted either by phone, by email or in person you will know that the screening process has begun. Processes can vary depending if you are a landlord just renting your property, or a real estate agent or property manager managing several properties but these steps should be followed independently of your situation.

So in your first conversation with the prospective tenant you should talk about the following points to decide to continue with the prospect or not:

  1. General questions like : Name, phone, number of people moving, smoker/non-smoker, pets/not pets
  2. Ask how many people will be living in the property
  3. Ask for the reason for moving and the intended rental term.
  4. Let the applicant know of your up front rent and security deposit requirements and other important facts regarding the rental.
  5. Consider taking note of any other question that you consider important.
  6. Ask for references of previous tenancies or employers. This is important as the employer references will tell you a lot about a tenant. Sometimes the tenant has been living with a friend or parents but if an employer is willing to give a reference you should consider that as part of the process. You can also call a previous landlord and that will give you very useful information as well about the nature of the applicant.

Most serious tenants will have no problem to answer these questions as they are very standard. But it is important to disqualify those applicants that fail to answer these very basic questions to save you time and worry later in the process.

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STEP 2: The interview in person

Most property managers will schedule a time to show the property to prospective tenants. This is the moment for the tenant to see if the property meets the requirements he is hoping for and for the property manager to decide if the tenant will be a good fit for the tenancy. Some things you should consider when interviewing an applicant are:

  1. Attitude & Manners: Things to consider are the punctuality of the person, the way the person talks, if the person talks respectfully or not. If the person is already pointing out problems to negotiate the price consider that as something that may keep happening in the future. Some people don’t mind but many owners will have difficulties with this behaviour.
  2. Appearance:This point is very simple as the appearance of a person says everything about how a person treats themselves and their homes. Appearance has to do with discipline to keep yourself well-groomed and clean, but it also goes hand by hand with the way you will treat your home. If a person does not have the time to clean themselves, they won’t have the time to clean and maintain your property.

STEP 3: Once the applicant is approved

As a property manager or landlord you will need to let the applicant know that his or her application is being considered along with others, and that you will notify him once a decision is made. Advise the applicant(s) that it is necessary to fill out the application as completely as possible.

It is essential to ask the tenant to send you the application as soon as possible to avoid the risk of losing the rental to some other rental.

Review and verify the application thoroughly and look for inconsistencies as those are the things you want to avoid. The simpler this application process is, the better the tenancy will be.

STEP 4: The Approval Process

Congratulate the applicant that has met the requirements for your rental and set the time, date and place for the lease signing. Instruct the applicant to bring the proper amounts of monies, identification and how you prefer to be paid.

Make sure to tell your new tenants that possession or keys will be given only after checks have cleared.

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STEP 5: The Lease Signing

It is very important that you have a quality residency lease and that you have read it thoroughly. There is many people who do not read it and just get a standard lease only to realise that they don’t agree with some of the points listed.  Make sure the tenant also knows all the details of the lease and agrees to them. If the tenant has problems with some of the parts, don’t push him to sign just to close the deal as it would be better to find another tenant that simply agrees to all the points. It will be easier for the duration of the lease if everybody is happy with the lease from the start. If there is a point that you are willing to negotiate, feel free to take time and think about it before signing off.


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