Three Screening Tips to Avoid an Eviction

by Megan Booe

Posted on 2019-10-15 20:17:01

One of the best ways to avoid an eviction later on in a lease agreement is to ensure you are thoroughly screening tenants before signing a lease. If a tenant gives off red flags during the screening process, they are likely not an ideal candidate for the unit. There are three things that are important to look for when screening a tenant that is applying to live in your unit before approving their application: their character, their rental history, and their financial qualifications.

An applicant’s character can be determined during the screening process by reaching out to the personal references they list on their application. As a landlord, you should require references on an application in order to get a better understanding of who a tenant is. It may even be in your best interest to require references that are not related to the applicant. This allows you to get real information about a person that isn’t from somebody who feels obligated to only mention positive attributes. By speaking to these references, you are able to better understand the type of character your tenant exhibits and whether or not they are a good fit for your unit. Of course, also reach out to previous landlords to get an unbiased opinion on whether they would rent to this tenant again or not, which leads into rental history.

Rental history is one of the most important things to look at when considering an application for your unit. Rental history refers to where your tenant previously lived and often includes previous addresses, landlord contact information, length of tenancy and even rent amount.  It is important to note if a tenant’s previous address was a home address and this is their first time renting as this could raise concerns if they have a short or nonexistent renting history. Also, pay attention to the length of tenancy. A short length of tenancy at a unit may indicate problems that caused them to leave a lease early. Always be sure to include a spot for previous evictions/judgments. If an applicant has an eviction or judgment on their record this can be a huge red flag and indicate they do not make on-time payments or paying at all, seriously. More information also lies within the time a tenant is looking to move in. Anytime a tenant has “ASAP,” right away, or a move in during odd times of the year/month this could indicate they have just been evicted out of a unit and are trying to find another place quickly.

The third, and arguably most important is to review the financial qualifications of an applicant. The standard rule to determine if a tenant can afford the rent at your unit is to ensure their monthly gross income is at least 3 times higher than the rent.  Also, be sure to review not just credit score but credit history- i.e. what types of debt an applicant has- as this gives you the bigger picture of why the credit score is what it is.

Take your time when reviewing applicants and prevent a future eviction by paying attention to an applicant’s character, rental history, and financing qualifications.


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