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5 Myths About Tenant Screening That Every Landlord Should Know

System - Friday, October 21, 2022
Property Management Blog

Recent statistics reveal that 44.1 million households in the U.S. are renters. If you think about that, if every landlord runs a tenant screening as they should, that is a lot of applicants getting a tenant screening in the United States alone.

If you are a landlord who is looking for a good tenant who will pay on time and keep your property in good order, you are in good company. In this article, you will learn how you can find the best renter with some good tenant screening advice.

Keep reading to discover what tenant screening is and the biggest myths a landlord can fall trapped.

What Is Tenant Screening?

This is a report which gives a landlord a window into a potential tenant’s past, so you can decide if they could be a good tenant in the future. A tenant screening report includes a person’s financial and rental past. This includes criminal history, evictions, and credit.

With your property, you want to be confident that you agree to let a tenant who can pay on time, take care of the property, and not engage in illegal activities sign your rental agreement.

Remember that you can only conduct a tenant screening report with the consent of the tenant. You will want the individual, or individuals, to sign a consent form.

Tenant Screening Tips

This all seems pretty simple, right? Wrong. Here are common myths you need to be aware of.

1. All You Need Is a Tenant With a High Credit Score

Credit scores are certainly important. You should look for a renter with a FICO score of 650 or higher.

However, this only means they will pay on time, and that is all. This does not mean they will maintain the property or not throw a loud party at 3:00 am, upsetting the neighbors.

2. You Can Judge Them by How They Look

This is a gigantic mistake. Discriminating against tenants is illegal. This includes implementing a higher rent for people based on their gender, age, ethnicity, or another protected class.

The way you research an applicant must be the same for all. You must use the same process.

3. You Cannot Deny an Applicant Who Is in the U.S. Illegally

Remember, you must ask each applicant for the same documentation. If you are a landlord, you may ask an applicant for proof of U.S. citizenship under the Federal Fair Housing Act. You can do this using Form I-9 if you have all applicants complete it.

4. The Landlord Handles the Cost of the Credit Check

For many states, the law allows the landlord to charge a fee to an applicant to conduct their credit check. This fee can include the tenant screening report itself, along with the time you put into it. Some states enforce a maximum screening fee, however, so you will want to know about that before you charge the applicant.

5. The Applicant Can Just Provide Their Credit Report

If an applicant has been searching for multiple properties, they may not be happy about paying for multiple tenant screening reports. The potential tenant may just get one credit report and give it to you this way.

You could accept it this way, but depending on your state, you do not have to accept it. Some states may require you to accept a credit report if the credit report was obtained within the past 30 days.

Tenant Screening Service

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a partner you can trust to help you with tenant screening? Wouldn’t you love a partner that could do the heavy lifting with an easy application that applicants can do on a website?

Home River Group can help you find the right tenant with our online tenant screening service. Contact us now.