At Elite Pacific Properties, we take tenant screening seriously because we know what kind of impact the right tenant will have on the success of your investment experience.
We also know the impact a bad tenant will have.
It’s important to find a highly qualified tenant who understands the importance of paying rent on time, following the terms of the lease agreement, and taking care of the rental property. If you insist on well-qualified residents, contact our team at Elite Pacific Properties. We’d love to tell you why we have a high rate for tenant retention and a low rate for tenant evictions.
Here are some of the steps we take while screening to find the best residents for your Oahu investment property.
Rental Criteria and Fair Housing
First, we have an established set of rental criteria. This is important because before you begin collecting applications and screening tenants, you must understand the fair housing laws. You cannot discriminate against applicants based on race, color, national origin, sex, familial status, religion, or disability.
We don’t meet a lot of landlords who discriminate intentionally, but the way you handle each application could lead you to make mistakes that you didn’t realize were fair housing violations. That can result in an expensive lawsuit. Screen every applicant consistently.
Establish your standard rental criteria and provide it in writing to your potential tenants before they even apply. You can list your income requirements, credit requirements, and anything else that they’ll need to have in order to be approved for your property. When you have this in place and you follow it every time you screen, you won’t make an expensive fair housing mistake.
Conduct National Eviction and Criminal Checks
Your first step should be to check for a criminal history. Make sure you do a national search, not just a local one. When you’re putting together your criteria, you’ll have to determine whether you will accept a criminal background of any kind. Maybe a tenant with a nonviolent offense 20 years ago is acceptable but an applicant with a recent history of violent or drug-related offenses isn’t. Set your standards and stick to them.
Look for past evictions as well. Again, use your best judgment when you decide whether you will accept a tenant with a prior eviction. Just be consistent. Maybe someone who was evicted 10 years ago but has done a good job establishing a solid rental history since then is acceptable but an applicant with four evictions in the last five years is not. Set some standards.
Verify Credit, Income, and Financial History
Check credit, but don’t get too distracted by the credit score. Finding someone with perfect credit will be difficult, especially given the economic ups and downs over the last 10 years. You’re looking for someone who demonstrates financial responsibility and a record of paying their housing bills on time. A history of late or unpaid utility bills might be a red flag. You don’t want to see any debt that’s owed to former landlords, apartment buildings, or property managers, either.
Ask for Rental References
A good way to get a feeling for how a tenant has behaved in the past is by checking rental references. Call or email current and former landlords. Find out if rent was paid on time, the lease was followed, and any property damage was left behind. Ask about pets and whether proper notice was given before the tenant moved out. These reference checks can be invaluable in evaluating how tenants have performed in previous rental homes.
If you need help with tenant screening or you have any Oahu property management questions, please contact us at Elite Pacific Properties.