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What to Look for in a Quality Tenant

Finding good tenants to fill a vacant property can be a challenging task. Every landlord has his or her own impression of what makes up a quality tenant. However, there are laws that must be followed, despite any personal bias you might have about a potential tenant. Depending upon the specific laws in your state, landlords can weed out potential bad tenants and offer vacant spaces to individuals that they feel are more qualified to meet their expectations. One thing is certain; every landlord must abide by the rules and regulations incorporated within Fair Housing Laws.
In addition, there may be additional laws that are specific to your state. All states prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to tenants based on their ethic background, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or type of income source (this refers to what kind of job a potential tenant has). These rules are the basics every landlord must follow, but there are numerous other factors a landlord can take into consideration, in order to determine, if someone is a quality tenant or not. The goal here is to have a plan, when it comes to screening potential applicants.

Landlords, who formulate a plan, are better organized and are more likely to stay within the boundaries of all applicable laws. In addition, a well-organized plan prevents you from renting to just anyone. Landlords often find that it is very easy to fill a vacancy, but rather difficult to find someone, who will pay his or her rent on time, not disturb the neighbors, and maintain the property the way you desire. Every landlord should set some minimum screening standards for applicants. Tenant screening standards refer to personal decisions you have made in advance about the minimum qualifications a tenant must have in order to lease a space. These standards will differ depending upon your criteria to determine a quality tenant, but they should never violate Fair Housing Laws or any other laws set by your state. Therefore, it is vital that you become familiar with all of the housing laws that may affect your decision.

Screening standards should be realistic and not overly strict. Things, such as financial income, criminal background checks, and rental history, may fall into your screening standard plan. Financial income is an important thing to consider before leasing a space to a potential tenant. You want to make sure that the individual can realistically pay the set rent, including potential rent increases in the future. Landlords can determine this by setting the requirement at a multiple amount. This takes into account the minimum needed to cover the rent and extra money to cover other expenses, as well as emergencies. For example, your rent is set at $400 per month, but a tenant, who only earns $400 a month, will not realistically be able to pay their rent. Every tenant needs food, clothes, electricity, water, and some extra spending money depending upon their lifestyle. Some landlords may offer a plan that covers water and electric costs, but that still does not take into consideration money for emergency purposes or entertainment factors not to mention car payments. A tenant, who earns two to three times the rent amount per month, is more likely to cover their rental expense and take care of other necessary living costs, so be sure to set a fixed minimum amount of income per tenant.

Criminal background checks are another great way to screen potential tenants. Many landlords may be more hesitant to rent to someone, who has committed a serious crime, such as murder or robbery. However, some states, such as California, prohibit landlords from discriminating against individuals, who have criminal convictions depending on the situation. For example, a restaurant manager would be justified in not hiring someone, who has a history of embezzling funds, but a landlord would have a more difficult time finding a justified cause in this situation. In addition, criminal background checks are typically done on a county-by-county basis. There is currently no national reporting system that keeps track of an individual's behavior and criminal record, so landlords will have to be careful here. Besides checking the tenant's home county for any record it is best to check surrounding counties, as well. There are numerous organizations that can provide more thorough criminal background checks, but this can be an expensive endeavor. Just remember that this process can be time consuming, if done on your own, so it may be worth the cost to outsource to professionals.

Rental history is another important factor to consider in your tenant screening plan. Chances are good that someone with a history of paying their rent on time, maintaining the rental property, and not disturbing their former neighbors will continue to be a responsible tenant. You can contact landlords at other rental sites to confirm what kind of tenant you are dealing with. One word of caution here: an eviction does not necessarily mean that the tenant will not live up to your expectations. The filing of an eviction proceeding may reflect poor ownership on the landlord's part or a bad rent control law that has been overlooked, so make sure you get all of the facts before discounting the individual. Other factors to take into consideration, when formulating a screening plan are the number of individuals or family members allowed in one dwelling. You can check with HUD and follow their suggestions to prevent overcrowding. Of course credit history and employment references are vital sources of information. Remember, the best way to find a quality tenant is to formulate a well thought out plan that will properly screen individuals before you sign the lease.
 

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