How to Find Good Tenants

Whether you choose to handle tenant screenings or prefer assistance, RentSpree can make managing the process hassle-free for you and your tenants. Sign up today to access a complete rental tool kit.

February 17, 2023

8 min read


There’s no guaranteed way for landlords, property managers, and real estate agents who manage the property to know that a renter will be a “good tenant”—someone who will respect your property, take care of it, and pay rent on time. However, you can take a few steps to increase the odds in your favor.

Finding the right tenants for your rental property requires a combination of proactive measures and thorough screening techniques.

Set clear expectations

Establishing clear criteria for prospective renters will make it easier for you to approve applicants based on their personal, rental, and financial history.

An example of clear rental expectations could include:

  • Documented income of 3x the rent
  • Minimum credit score of 650+
  • No recorded evictions
  • No recorded felonies

Be sure to apply your criteria fairly to every applicant. If you decide you want applicants to have a cosigner, you'll need to apply this requirement to everyone who applies regardless of their financial circumstances. Failure to do so may be interpreted as unlawful housing discrimination.

If none of your prospective tenants meet the application criteria, continue showing the property and adjusting your expectations within reason, if needed. If multiple applicants meet your criteria, you can rent to the qualifying renter who applied first.

Create a detailed rental application

Your rental application should gather all you need to know about your prospective tenants to make an informed decision. You want to be as detailed as possible while following your local laws and regulations. The application typically covers five areas to help you learn as much about your applicants as possible. Your application should include a section for:

  1. Personal information
  2. Residential history
  3. Employment/income
  4. References
  5. Miscellaneous

Your prospective renters will likely be looking at a few properties at the same time, so an efficient and professional application process will improve your chances of signing a top prospect. RentSpree's free online rental application helps speed up this process. It also provides an easy way to collect and manage your applications. Tenants can enquire and apply through the RentSpree website, which captures all the information you need to make a preliminary decision.

Market your property effectively

When it comes to advertising a rental property, there's a lot to consider. Start with catchy titles and easy-to-skim descriptions that include the rental rate, type of property, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. To make your property stand out further, consider highlighting unique features or aspects about the neighborhood.

Example description: $745 – 1 bed/1 bath new listing. Welcome to The Forge on Webster. This spacious unit features new flooring, fresh paint, updated appliances, and a bath! Conveniently located near Green Bay East School District. Close to Joannes Park and East Mason St., making commutes easy. The unit is pet friendly with an additional monthly fee. Underground and exterior parking is available.

As you craft your listing description, keep in mind these best practices:

  • Highlight the property’s best features (like a fireplace, garden, or ensuite bath) and proximity to downtown, parks, and schools.
  • Use positive descriptive words such as spacious, beautiful, traditional, and cozy.
  • Talk about the neighborhood. Is the area good for kids or quiet and more appropriate for older residents?
  • Describe what’s nearby including parks, public transportation, stores, gas stations, schools, universities, and restaurants.
  • Emphasize new or unique features like beautiful views, hardwood floors, a balcony, or recently completed renovations.
  • Provide rental details like the deposit amount; what types of pets are allowed; if utilities are included; and the smoking policy.
  • Include a contact name and number renters can use to express their interest, as well as information about the application process, the credit and background check process, and any application fees.

Keep your rental property description concise and check that it’s compliant with local laws. As you write your description, keep in mind the Fair Housing Act “prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings and other housing-related activities based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin.” Avoid using all-caps text and too many exclamation marks, and ensure the listing is grammatically correct and add a few good photographs to showcase the property.

Once you’ve created your rental listing, boost your exposure by sharing your listings across social media platforms and other listing websites. Facebook, Facebook Marketplace, Twitter, and Instagram are ideal tools to let the world know there’s a great home available for rent. And if you’ve created your listing with RentSpree, you can easily generate shareable links to distribute your properties across multiple social platforms.

Complete a comprehensive tenant screening report

Once you’ve identified qualified tenants, you’ll need to run a tenant screening report to pull information like a tenant’s rental or criminal history. If you manage your rentals with RentSpree, we partner with TransUnion to provide these reports which include the following information:

  • SSN verification
  • Resident score
  • Address history
  • Credit score
  • Nationwide criminal & sex offender search
  • Bankruptcies
  • Nationwide evictions

Agents, landlords, and property managers using RentSpree can review completed reports in the landlord portal. This process allows you to streamline and fill your vacancies with the best tenants quickly.

Get the best tenants with comprehensive screening techniques

Checking prospective tenants' credit, criminal, and eviction history can help you gain a well-rounded view of who they are. While it’s tempting to do a quick search on Google or social media platforms, you need more information to make a sound decision.

Run a credit check – Get a complete overview of applicants’ credit, including history and payments, trade lines, inquiries, collections, and more. When you run a credit card with RentSpree, it’s considered a soft inquiry and won't affect an applicant’s credit score.

Verify income and employment – Verify income and employment to confirm a renter can afford to rent the property, starting with the renter’s declaration about their job and current income on the application form. Then it’s up to you to call the employer to verify their stated income and time of employment. Your application should include a form or check box that allows you to ask the applicant’s employer these questions, and you can also request a W2 or a copy of an applicant’s tax return for further verification.

Check references – Personal references can provide social corroboration about the renter’s character. Ask applicants for three references who can give insight into how responsible they are as renters. If the stories match, you can move forward knowing the person is at least showing the same character traits to everyone.

Check the rental history report

Access an applicant’s eviction related proceedings (where available) and look for these red flags:

Late or missing rent payments – The previous landlord may share that while they did not take steps to evict a tenant, the tenant was regularly late with rent payments. Late or missing rent is not necessarily a reason to disqualify an applicant, but it opens up questions as to why they were habitually late with rent or missed payments altogether.

Previous evictions or lease violations – A renter with a record of evictions and other lease violations is not necessarily a bad tenant. A red flag such as an eviction is an obvious discussion point for your applicant. With a proper tenant screening process and report, like the one from RentSpree, you can access an applicant’s eviction-related proceedings with resources from over 25 million records across all 49 states. Only the state of New York will not share eviction information. Even if an applicant denies any history of eviction, the tenant screening report will help you find past problems and ask them for more information.

Criminal background – If your criteria states that you will not accept a renter with a felony conviction, you can disqualify an applicant if their background check reveals such a felony per the Fair Housing Act. RentSpree’s tenant screening process gives you a comprehensive background check derived from over 200 million criminal records searches. Keep in mind that some states and jurisdictions have laws preventing them from sharing this information, including New Jersey, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Cook County (Illinois), and Wyoming.

False or misleading information – If you find false or misleading information during your tenant screening process, you should discuss it with the applicant. This could be an indication that you won’t be able to trust them as a tenant. There may have been an error with the information, or they may have deliberately given you false information. Regardless, you’ll want to discuss the inaccuracies with them to gain further clarity before making a decision.

(Automatic) reference checks

Landlord reference checks are a great way to discover how other landlords view the applicant and their behavior during a tenancy, providing you insights that even the most detailed tenant screening report can’t reveal. For example, a past landlord can tell you about a tenant who constantly complained about minor issues, bothered their neighbors, or ignored pet policies. Contact an applicant’s previous landlord to help you avoid issues like this and move forward with only the best applicants.

How technology can improve the screening process

Technology has made the tenant screening process faster and more accurate for everyone involved. Tools like RentSpree help consolidate the entire rental workflow in one secure platform, making it easy for agents and landlords to source, screen, and approve tenants in no time.

With RentSpree’s online application and screening process, landlords can rest assured that their application complies with all current laws and local regulations. RentSpree also stays on top of changes in landlord and tenant laws, updating the kinds of information collected and screening process to reflect those changes.

Landlords often rely on tenant screening reports, and while these reports provide good information, they’re just one starting point in the application process. To source the best possible candidates, consider balancing the use of technology with personal communication and interactions with the applicant and their references.

When you can readily find qualified tenants for your rental property, your rental business is more successful, not to mention easier to manage. Quality tenants pay rent on time and are easy to work with. Set up clear rental criteria and use a comprehensive tenant screening process to ensure you approve renters who will take care of your property.


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