Everyone’s screening process looks a little different. When you’re looking for the best tenants for your Santa Rosa rental property, you should always look for the basics: credit, income, eviction history, and rental history. While some owners will barely glance at the applications their screening, others will have impossibly high standards that even reliable tenants cannot meet.
Before you can even begin your screening process, you’ll want to establish some minimum qualifying criteria. This should be documented and provided to anyone who applies to rent your home. This will keep your screening process consistent, protect you against any fair housing discrimination claims, and ensure you’re finding the best and most qualified tenants in Santa Rosa.
Here’s what you should do to set up your screening process.
Conduct a Bit of Pre-Screening
Save yourself the time of showing properties to tenants who may not be qualified. You can do this by pre-screening anyone who calls for more information about your property. Ask some general and legally compliant questions, including:
- When are you looking to move? You don’t want to leave your move-in ready property vacancy for too long, so you’re looking for people who are ready to move within a few weeks or a month.
- What’s your budget? This is a good opportunity to talk about the monthly rent. You can explain what your income requirements are, and ask if they meet those standards.
- Do you have any prior evictions or criminal convictions that will show up on our background check? Letting potential applicants know that you’ll be checking will help them determine whether they have a chance at getting approved.
- Do you have any pets? Whether you allow pets or you don’t, this will be an important qualifier for you and your prospective tenants.
Move forward and schedule showings for those who provide the answers you’re looking for. Always make sure you give applicants your rental criteria so they know how they measure up and whether there’s something that will keep them from being approved.
Provide a Comprehensive Rental Application
The rental application is going to help you screen for the best tenants. Make sure you’re using a form that’s been approved by an attorney or a Santa Rosa property manager. You’ll want to collect all the pertinent information, such as former addresses, employers, income information, and social security numbers. Most importantly, you’ll want to get a signature that grants you the permission that’s needed to run the necessary background, credit, and reference checks.
Every adult who is 18 years of age or older should complete an application and be fully screened.
Verify All Information
During the screening process, you should obtain a credit report, look for prior evictions and criminal convictions, and make sure all the information that’s on the application matches what you find on the credit report.
Talk to current and former landlords or property managers to get an idea of how the tenant performed while renting a home from them. Were there late payments? Did the security deposit get returned in full? Was proper notice given before the tenant moved out? How did the pets treat the property?
Remember to follow all fair housing laws. You cannot reject qualified applicants who have Section 8 vouchers, for example, because that can be used as income when you’re screening. Service and companion animals are not pets, so you cannot consider a tenant’s need for those when you’re screening, even if you don’t allow pets.
Tenant screening is one of the most important things you’ll do during the leasing process. You want to get it right, so consider working with a professional and experienced Santa Rosa property management company. We’d be happy to help. You can contact us at Prestige Real Estate & Property Management. We manage homes in Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park.