Back to List
Posted November 15, 2023 by Rental Advisors

Top Tips for Tenant Screening

Looking for new tenants can be an extensive process. With numerous factors to consider and tasks to complete, how can you guarantee you’ve found the best person? If you follow these tips, we can ensure you will find a good candidate for your property.

#1 Set Clear Criteria Ahead of Time

To make screenings more efficient, it is best to have a vision of what your ideal tenant would be. Before conducting interviews, consider the basis of what you’re looking for and apply this to all applicants. Some examples of this are sufficient income, history of timely payments and consistent employment. However, make sure that the criteria is fair and in accordance to the Fair Housing Act and the Alberta Human Rights Act.

#2 Create A Detailed Application

When drafting up an application document, include sections for in-depth explanation of the person’s employment history, previous tenancies, income verification, and other important questions revolving around their lifestyle and habits. Have a clear spot for the person to list their references with names, places of employment as well as phone numbers and email addresses. Lastly, ask for proof of identity, such as government-issued photo ID, to match them with their references as well as their online presence.

#3 Perform A Credit Check

With the consent of the applicant, pull their credit report from the credit agency to gather further insight on their financial responsibility. This will show you things such as their outstanding debts, borrowing patterns and payment history. This is an important step as it outlines how responsible and reliable the applicant may be.

#4 Verify Their Income

When meeting with the candidate, ask them to bring along any documents that verify their income. This can include pay stubs or tax returns from the previous year. This will help establish their debt-to-income ratio as well as the minimum income threshold. Renters should not be spending more than 25-35% of their earnings on rent, so income verification is key to finding a strong tenant.

#5 Contact References, Co-Signers and Previous Landlords

Once you have reviewed the application, make sure to contact each employer, reference and co-signer individually. This will help provide more insight on the applicant’s lifestyle and how they act in both professional and casual settings. For example, landlords could inform you of payment habits, if they followed the lease agreement and any issues that may have arisen. With these informants, ensure you do sufficient research and use phone numbers listed on company websites. You do not want to risk being deceived by a fake phone number that leads to an illegitimate reference. All of this will help add an additional layer of security to the approval process.

#6 Conduct a Criminal Background Check

To guarantee the safety of your property and its neighbours, conduct a criminal background check with the consent of the applicant. This could potentially show a history of legal issues or convictions that may be ongoing. While the results may be disconcerting, don’t automatically disqualify them. You never know who is trying to better their life.

#7 Meet Applicant in Person

In-person interviews are always best for tenant screenings. Conversing with applicants allows them to show their authentic selves through their demeanour and how they present themselves both physically and orally. Here, you can ask them first-hand about their lifestyle – such as if they own pets, if they smoke and when they need to move in. Again, make sure to research which topics you are legally allowed to discuss and which should be avoided.

#8 Document Everything

As you move throughout this process, make sure to document everything from criteria to applications to correspondence and so on. From here, you can cross-reference all the information given to see if there are any outliers or discrepancies. This will be helpful for the final deliberation and decision as well as if any disputes occur.