“Screening tenants is easy,” is something that you’ll never hear a real estate investor say — ever. The tenant screening process seems simple, but it is much harder than it is, especially if you haven’t enlisted the services of a property management company. It demands diligence, as you will have to identify the red flags of irresponsible renters. Unfortunately, these red flags aren’t always staring you straight in the eye.
To help, we’ve put together a few of the red flags to look out for. Keep reading to know these tell-tale signs, so you can avoid renting out your real estate investment to the wrong tenants.
Why should you screen your tenants?
Understandably, you’d want to avoid having a vacant investment property. After all, an empty property isn’t a profitable property. You’ll likely be tempted to skip the tenant screening process, but do know that this isn’t the best option out there. You can still avoid vacancies without having to sacrifice the tenant screening process. That’s what South Florida property management companies are for.
Here are the top three reasons why you should always screen your potential tenants:
#1 It protects your property
By conducting a background check, you can protect your property from tenants that will likely put your property at risk. Have they been previously evicted? If so, why were they evicted? Did they destroy the property? Did they use the property to do illegal things? If your tenant has a history of causing harm to the investment property — and to other people — it’s probably best not to approve their rental application. This is especially true if you’re renting out a unit in a condominium community.
#2 It prevents evictions
Think eviction involves kicking the tenant out? Think again. The eviction process can be incredibly time-consuming and costly that no real estate investor would want to go through it twice. According to TransUnion, it costs around $2,500 to $3,500 to evict a tenant — that’s more than the average cost of certain value-adding home renovations. Reviewing your potential tenant’s application can help you avoid evictions, saving you a significant amount of money.
#3 It determines whether they can pay their rent on time
You won’t be able to live the “investor’s life” if your tenants fail to pay their rent on time. Tenants with a stable source of income are more likely to make their monthly payments. Additionally, their credit score should tell you whether or not they can be counted when it comes to paying on time. If they have a poor credit score (300 to 499), they probably won’t be able to pay their rent on the due date. A low credits score indicates a history of owing too much money.
What are the signs of a “bad” tenant?
Why would you want to leave your investment in unworthy hands? Below, you’ll find a few of the “red flags” of a bad renter. And remember, not all red flags are obvious, so you’ll have to trust your gut. Alternatively, you could hire a property management company that can spot the signs with 100% certainty.
#1 Low income
Don’t be ashamed to pry into your tenant’s payslip. As a landlord, you should be aware of how much your would-be tenant earns. After all, you wouldn’t want to rent out your property to someone that can’t afford it, would you? Aside from asking them where they work, ask for their paycheck. In general, a “good” income is at least twice the rent. For instance, if the rent costs $1,000, they should earn $2,000 or more a month.
Get ready to listen to sob stories. Tenants will try to sway you by saying how their job applications are always rejected. Even if they tell you that they’re currently job-hunting, you shouldn’t rent to them just because you pity them. If they aren’t employed, chances are that they can’t pay their rent for months. Plus, who knows when they’ll find work? It’s too risky.
#3 Low credit score
When a potential tenant has an unsatisfactory credit score, it indicates that they have defaulted on their credit card payments in the past. In other words, they owed their credit card company money. Ideally, you shouldn’t rent to potential tenants with a FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) credit score lower than 620. If they weren’t able to pay back then, they likely won’t be able to pay now.
#4 Previous eviction
Commonsensically, why would anyone want to rent out their property to a person with previous evictions? Landlords and property management companies can’t evict a tenant unless they’ve violated their contract, for instance, if they’ve failed to pay their rent. So, if you come across a tenant that has been evicted, chances are that you’ll have to evict them, too. What’s stopping them from breaching their lease agreement again?
When screening potential tenants, consider contacting their past landlords. If they have nothing but bad things to say about the tenant, then it’s probably best to put their application in the bin.
#5 Criminal record
Tenants that have been convicted of a crime have a harder time when it comes to housing. Understandably, you’re probably concerned that a tenant with a criminal history could be a danger to the community. However, do remember that it depends on the type of crime. Know your state’s laws, as you may not be able to reject a tenant just because they’ve been convicted of a minor crime. Do your homework (or ask your property manager) if you don’t want to end up in court for a discrimination lawsuit.
Your real estate investment deserves to be occupied by the best tenants. You’ll likely end up renting it out to someone you don’t know, so the least you can do is to make sure that they’re responsible and able to make their monthly payments. Keep an eye out for the red flags so you can steer clear of risky renters. Better yet, leave it to the property managers at Luxury Property Care. We’ll find you the perfect tenant for your South Florida property.