A trying time for most Tampa landlords is when the property becomes vacant. You feel the need to fill it up quickly to restore the continuous flow of rental income. During that period, most owners are often tempted to lease the asset to the first tenant that shows even the slightest interest.
Experience, however, proves that no matter how eager you may be to get a renter, any prudent landlord should take the time to screen every person interested in leasing the property.
The screening is not a one-time activity, as most landlords presume, but rather an ongoing process that starts the minute your property becomes vacant and goes on until the right candidate signs the lease and moves into the property.
Here are some of the screening processes you can use to identify the best quality tenant for your Tampa rental property.
Familiarize Yourself With The Law
Since you want law abiding occupants, the first thing you need to do is familiarize with the city’s housing laws. Take the time to study the specific Tampa laws on rental limits, security deposits, tenant screening as well as Housing legislation. Armed with knowledge, it becomes easier for you to proceed with the screening without worrying about breaking the law.
Define Your Ideal Tenant
Since it is your property, you have a right to decide the type of tenants you want to occupy it. Provided that your demands do not violate the Fair Housing rules.
Even though the definition of the perfect renter will vary from one landlord to another, a desirable client should meet some minimum requirements. For instance, he or she should have a rent-to-income ratio where they earn three times more than the rent. Furthermore, the prospect should have a stable income, a clean criminal record, favorable credit scores as well as great landlord referrals. By setting up your minimum criteria, you have started to weed out unfit tenants.
Craft The Vacancy Advertisement To Highlight Your Requirements
The easiest way of alerting potential renters that you have a vacant property is through advertising. Whichever media or strategy you employ, make sure the message in the ad or listing defines the kind of tenants you want. Once you do that, those who view the advert and do not satisfy the criteria will be less likely to contact you.
Ask Meaningful Questions During The Initial Interactions
Once you start advertising your rental vacancy, prospects will start making inquiries. Use that opportunity to determine whether or not the interested party meets your minimum requirements.
Be polite and professional as you inform the person about your minimum standards, as well as the property’s rent price, location, size, and features. While at it, do not hesitate to ask the individual if he or she meets your criteria. If the person makes a promising impression, go ahead and invite them to view the property.
Observe Their Tone and Body Language
When interacting with a prospect, pay close attention not just to what they say, but to the non-verbal cues such as body language, appearance, and tone. When chatting with the prospect, ask yourself whether he or she is someone you would wish to have as a tenant.
If you feel uncomfortable because the person sounded rude, insincere, or obnoxious, it might be in your best interest to courteously dismiss the person. Conversely, if the candidate is likable, then advance him or her to the next step.
Ask Them To Fill Out A Rental Application
Another way to identify quality renters for your Tampa property is to ask them to fill out a rental application. The candidates will provide valuable information which includes their legal names, National ID, Social Security Number, Physical address, Tenancy history, employment details, names of current and previous landlords, as well as criminal history.
If the applicant has a past eviction, judgment or broken lease, he or she should make that known at this stage. Moreover, the applicant should give you their consent to gather relevant information from previous landlords, employers, and any other appropriate sources.
Counter Check The Application
After the interested parties submit their duly filled applications, you need to assess them to verify the honesty of the information they provided. Doing that will entail conducting both background and credit checks, which will help to reveal the applicants’ credit rating, criminal records, current and previous addresses, tenancy history, among others.
You will also need to call the applicants’ previous landlords and employers to ascertain the credibility of the data. If you notice inconsistencies between the information an applicant gave and what the background checks unveiled, it would be in your best interest to drop such a candidate from the vetting process.
Take Them Through The Lease
In most cases after reviewing the application, it becomes easy to determine the obvious candidate. But you’re not finished yet.
You need to take them through a final qualifying process.
The lease agreement.
Irrespective of how impressive an applicant was during the previous screening stages, do not permit them into the property until they go over the lease agreement terms and sign off on them. If the applicant is unwilling to adhere to your terms, then you should disqualify them. Bringing in a tenant without a proper lease agreement can result in too many legal issues down the road.
Even though the tenant screening process might seem time-consuming, it is worth it. It will save you from the agony of dealing with unruly or problematic tenants. Consequently, your Tampa property will remain safe, while you enjoy the rewards of having high-quality renters.
If you would like help screening tenants in Tampa or the surrounding areas don’t hesitate to contact us today!