What Kinds of Information Should You Collect from a Prospective Tenant?

Especially when you are fairly new to real estate and rentals, even one bad tenant can leave a bad taste in your mouth and jeopardize your real estate business. This is why it's so important to collect detailed information from each prospective tenant. Here are some tips on what kinds of information to request in order to screen your tenants. 

Rental History

Perhaps the biggest thing to look at when screening a tenant is their rental history. You should ask for contact information for each previous landlord, as well as the dates the tenant lived at each place. Even if you don't personally go through and call each landlord, it can be a big comfort that the person is willing to list their landlord's contact information. You should also look at how long the person has stayed at each residence; if you aren't willing to deal with a lot of turnover, steer clear of tenants who tend to stay at each place for only a few months at a time. Of course, if you do find a lack of tenure or a spotty rental history, you might simply want to charge a higher deposit and proceed with the application. 

Financial Info

It also helps to verify their financial stability. Many property management companies will urge you to do a background check at the minimum. Getting the tenant's employment references is also helpful. 

Driver's License or ID

Finally, before you spend time contacting references and verifying information about a tenant, make sure that the name they gave you is truly their legal name. You could spend a lot of time and energy verifying the credibility of a person who is not actually the one listed on the application. If you can get a driver's license or ID to verify, you'll avoid this big mistake. 

These are only a few of the most important items to learn about any tenant that you may want to sign a lease with. Vetting all of this information can certainly take up some time, but the potential losses and time consumption of a bad tenant make it worth it to do some of this leg work up front. If you do need to save time on screening tenants, there's always the option of hiring a property manager or real estate agent who focuses on rental properties. These specialists will understand more about how the process works and help you spot trouble tenants before any problems arise.