Reducing Tenant Problems with Tenant Screening

    reducing_tenant_problemsWe all know that in order to keep our rental properties cash flowing, we need to have low vacancies and high rents. Often times, we may loosen up or overlook key screening information to fill a vacancy fast and for the most money possible. However, the risk can be greater than the reward. A poor tenant can result in damage, law enforcement visits, late or no rent, conflict among tenants, unauthorized additional tenants and more. These all lead to a reduction in profit, distress on the property and deflation of the property value. By following proven methods and useful techniques, you can significantly reduce tenant nightmares from the start.

    Gut instincts and first impressions can prove helpful in picking the right tenant, but facts are invaluable and should be the main factor in picking the right person to live in your building.

    1) Be thorough: Get REAL identification; CURRENT state ID card being the most important, social security card or number, military ID, passport, work ID badge, etc.

    2) Get as much personal contact information as you can; cell phone, office phone, and even momma’s phone number to make sure you can always reach your tenant when you need to. CALL THE REFERENCES! This makes sure that the numbers are real. Visit Anchorage Court view and see if anything frightening turns up, particularly any FED (Forced Eviction Detainer) or anything that shows a violent past. Check Facebook or look them up online and see if anything alarming stands out.

    3) Employment information: Get at least their last three years of job history. Too many jobs to fit on one page? Might have a hard time holding down a job to pay you rent. The more steady a person’s work history; generally, the steadier they will be in paying rent on time. Make sure you have current and past employers contact information. Call their current employer to verify job income and if they don’t specify an exact amount, ask them to give a range.

    4) References: Get phone numbers for previous landlords to find out how they lived and if the left the property in poor condition. History repeats itself more often than not, so finding out how they lived in the past will give a good idea of how they will live in the future.

    5) Credit/ Background checks: A background check can give you a clear picture if the prospective tenant has had any run-ins with the law and why. If they had any sort of domestic violence charge or are a registered sex offender, you may want to think twice about renting to that individual. A credit check will tell you how well they pay their bills or any history of unpaid rent.

    6) Set your criteria and stick to it! Create minimum criteria for income, credit score, the length of time at their job, and maximum allowable occupants.

    7) Finally, if you ‘re having trouble making a decision and need good advice, call a Realtor (like me) who knows and owns an investment property, call a Property Manager or use a tenant screening service such as Tenant Watch. Don’t make assumptions. Use the wisdom of those who are around you and are having success.

    Not properly screening potential tenants results in longer vacancy periods and causes the unit to be rented for a lower amount. Remember, the only difference between a great business and a failing business is the systems they implement. So have great systems.


    Written By Jon Rodriguez,

    Cross and Associates

    Keller Williams Realty


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    Kevin Cross

    Kevin Cross is owner of Real Estate eXchange at Keller Williams Realty Alaska Group. Kevin’s Team specializes in income properties, commercial properties, rehab, flipping and creating cash flow for clients. You reach him at or call 907-865-6529.

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