Tenant Background Checklist for Everyday Phoenix Landlords

May 11, 2016 | Experts Column

Before you allow a tenant to move into your rental property, it’s very important that you find out what the tenant’s background is. I once had potential tenants come into the office and tell us they wanted to rent one of our properties. We told them they’d need to fill out an application and we would run a credit report. They said they didn’t want a credit report done, and we had to tell them that they’d need to go somewhere else to find a rental home. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so there are a few things to put on your background checklist when you’re screening tenants.

Take a Look at a Tenant’s Financial History

You want to know what the applicant’s financial history looks like. This is often reflected in the credit report. A tenant’s credit history should indicate whether they will pay their bills. If the credit score is less than 530 or 520, there is a 72 percent chance of defaulting on the bills that are due.

Conduct a Criminal Background Check

The next thing you want to find out is whether the tenant has a criminal history. You don’t want criminal acts performed while tenants are living in your property.

Talk About Past Tenant Performance

A tenant’s rental history will tell you a lot about what you can expect. Call the applicant’s previous landlords and find out if rent was paid on time and if the landlord would rent to that person again. Ask if the tenants took care of the property and whether the security deposit was returned.

Validate and Verify Income

Finally, you need to make sure your tenant earns enough income to rent the property. We like to see at least three times the rent in income for someone to qualify to rent one of our properties.
When you’re putting together your background checklist, remember these things that you must find out about a potential tenant before you hand over your rental property, which is one of your greatest assets. If you need any help with this process, please contact us at McMath Realty Property Management.