How long does tenant screening take?

If you’re used to making snap decisions based on your gut instincts, a thorough tenant screening process might seem like a waste of time, especially if you have a property that’s currently unoccupied. How long does a tenant screening process take and why should you spend the time? Here you’ll find out what to expect and learn more about what mistakes can crop up during the process.

January 24, 2020

4 min read


Screening your tenants thoroughly before you rent your property out is one of the first steps you need to take in the leasing process. You need to prioritize creating a robust screening system and be able to not only answer the question of how long does tenant screening take? But be sure that your information is reliable and up to date. Reliable tenants who pay their rent on time, look after your property, and don't violate their lease terms are worth their weight in gold. If you make the mistake of not checking out your potential tenants properly, then you could spend a lot of time and money solving the problem. To streamline your screening process and maximize the profitability of your property, consider online tenant screening services.

Finding the Right Tenant

It's easy to find the right tenants and stay on the right side of the laws referenced in the Fair Housing Act, by establishing a list of desirable criteria that you apply to all prospective tenants. This will give you a set of minimum criteria and give you a great jumping-off point from which to assess applicants while keeping the process objective initially. There are several steps to the screening process, and as soon as you have received applications, you can start verifying the information provided.

Verify Identity

You need to check first and foremost that your applicant is who they say they are. You can confirm the identity of a prospective tenant by asking to see official photo ID such as a passport or current driving license.

Verify Employment

Confirm your applicant's employment history by checking applicable documents and contacting any employment references that they provide.

Verify Income

It is critical to confirm a tenant's income to ensure they can afford to pay their rent and any security deposit that you require. You can check the applicant’s earnings by either asking for W-2 statements or seeing their pay stubs.

Tenant History

It is well worth looking at a tenant's past rental history, are they usually reliable long term renters and can they provide a reference from previous landlords. It is also critical to see if there are any earlier evictions on record. This can help you build a picture of whether a tenant is trustworthy and is likely to look after your property. Evicting an unsuitable tenant is a long process and generally proves to be an expensive one.

Request References

If you have any doubts, or the tenant cannot provide the appropriate documents or information, then think about requesting personal references. You can learn about a tenant's background from co-workers, members of their church, or family friends to get a better feel for how reliable they will be as a tenant.

Tenant Screening Reports

In addition to ensuring that all of the information provided by the tenant stacks up, there are a few other steps in the screening process. A comprehensive screening report will provide the landlord with a detailed background check of a prospective tenant to ensure they pick out the right person to occupy their property. How long does tenant screening take is an important question. You need a thorough background check, but you also need one that gives you the information you need at your fingertips quickly. You should be provided with a credit score as part of the screening process, so you can see how financially responsible the tenant is. A poor credit score without an explanation is a red flag that can't be ignored when selecting a tenant.Make sure you also get a record of whether your applicant has any criminal convictions that might impact you. You can legally refuse a tenant if they have a past conviction that relates to the destruction of property or endangering the safety of others. Remember that the Fair Housing Act requires you to consider renting to an applicant whose conviction doesn't relate to the above.

Choosing a Tenant Screening Service

Online tenant screening reports are invaluable in helping your rental process go smoothly. You have all the right information to decide at the touch of a button, and the information is provided directly by the applicant, which makes your life even easier.Selecting the right tenant screening service is key to making the process easy and quick. When looking at screening providers that best fit your needs, consider not only the fastest but who provides the most reliable data.Instant tenant screening is the gold standard, and your provider needs to balance speed with in-depth checks. It is also imperative to choose a screening service that has an excellent customer service record and which can help you through the process. It's helpful if you can get in touch with the company easily to ask questions and understand how the screening works and how to interpret the results.

Check out where your chosen provider gets their data from. You need to be confident that they use a reputable credit bureau for financial data and dependable sources for other checks. RentSpree uses industry favorite TransUnion to check credit reports and does a thorough check of over 200 million public and court records, both state and national, to provide the best tenant screening service possible. All the reports that RentSpree provides are in simple, jargon-free language so that you can easily interpret all of the information.

Tenant Screening Mistakes

You must screen every applicant, don't judge on outward appearance as that can certainly be a costly mistake. For your peace of mind and financial protection, have all tenants screened to ensure you don't encounter problems further down the line.Don't delay screening your tenant either; most renters apply to various properties, and you don't want to suffer screening delays that mean your applicant is accepted elsewhere first while your property lies empty.

Read the results of the screening report thoroughly, sure, the big problems will jump off the page at you, but don't ignore the rest of the information in the report or your feelings. Was the tenant happy to provide information and references, and have they been pleasant to deal with during the application process?

In Conclusion

Entrusting someone with your property requires robust preparation; you have to verify applications and collect all the data you need to make an informed decision.

Set up a tenant screening process that works for you and organize it in advance. If you have a system that is ready to go and simple to use, you'll be ahead of the game.


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