Does Your Tenant Screening Report Seem Incomplete? - Article Banner

Screening tenants can be automated to the point that you’ve created a fair, consistent, and thorough system for measuring each application against your documented set of qualifying rental criteria. With the right process in place, you can effectively check income, credit, and criminal histories all while remaining compliant with state and federal fair housing laws. 

But, your tenant screening report may seem incomplete. 

If so, let’s take a look at the specifics you should be evaluating before you approve a resident for your Washington State investment property

Are You Verifying Identifying Information?

One thing that’s easy to miss is basic identifying information. Before you dive into a credit analysis and a formula to determine whether your applicant earns enough to pay rent every month, make sure you’re reviewing information that belongs to the tenant who is applying. Check to be sure the social security number and driver’s license number match up. Double-check the addresses you find on the credit report against the addresses provided on the application. Is your prospective tenant leaving something out? That might indicate there’s something they don’t want you to know. 

You want to make sure all the data you gather during the screening process meets your standards. Before you even get there, however, you want to make sure the identifying information matches up and the information on your rental application is legitimate. 

Conduct Rental Reference Checks 

A lot of rental property owners will thoroughly pour through the information that comes in from various background checks, but they won’t talk to former or current landlords. This is a mistake, and may be a huge part of your screening process that’s missing. 

On the application, collect contact information for at least two landlords. When the tenants sign the application, it should provide you with permission to talk to landlord references. 

Call or email those landlords with questions about your prospective tenant, which may include:

  • Did the tenant pay rent on time every month? If not, how quickly did they catch up?
  • Did the tenant take care of the property? Was there any damage left behind after the tenant moved out, and were there deductions from the security deposit?
  • Was the tenant communicative and quick to report any maintenance issues? 
  • Was proper notice given before the tenants moved out?

Ask if there were pets and if the landlord had to manage any conflicts or disputes. Most importantly, ask if they would ever rent to those tenants again. 

Without landlord references, your tenant screening report is incomplete. 

Do You Have Accurate Eviction Data?

Screening for past evictions should be part of your process. These evictions don’t always show up in a credit report, however. You need to conduct a nationwide eviction search to get accurate data. You also want to know about eviction filings as well as eviction judgments. The judgment will show up on an eviction search when it’s thoroughly conducted, but you won’t always get to see the number of times an eviction was filed but ultimately not pursued. That information can be helpful in determining whether a prospective tenant reliably pays on time or is frequently late.

Contact Property ManagerThese are just a few of the things that may be missing from your tenant screening report. If you’d like some help making yours more complete, please contact us at Real Estate Gladiators. We serve Monroe, Issaquah, Bellevue, Everett, Lake Stevens, Kirkland, and other cities in and around King and Snohomish counties in Washington State.