Placing the wrong tenant in your rental property can lead to many problems. For example, you might face a loss in revenue, a damaged property, or even a bad reputation if you’re not careful. In fact, many property owners will tell you that tenant screening is one of the most important things you can do as a landlord.
Tenant screening in Atlanta means wading through the bad tenants and finding the right ones. After that, it’s your job to figure out which prospective tenant is the best fit.
The thing is, when you have a vacant property, it can be tempting to place the first decent tenant you find so you can start collecting rent again. But doing this often sets you up for future disasters.
If you want to avoid placing a problem tenant in your rental, check out these red flags you should look for during the screening process. Though you can’t prevent all problems, you can lower your chances of placing a bad tenant in your Atlanta property by using proper tenant screening methods.
Red Flags to Look for During Your Atlanta Tenant Screenings
1. Poor Credit
A potential tenant’s credit score is likely the best indicator of whether they’ll make a good tenant or not. Adding to that, credit reports reveal how people handle things like debt and making payments.
When you run a credit report on a prospective tenant, you’ll see four categories:
- Identifying Information: make sure the name and social security number match what’s on the lease application.
- Credit Accounts: view a list of the tenant’s creditors and information about credit cards, mortgages, and loans.
- Public Records: learn about any bankruptcies, court judgments, or other major financial issues your tenant has had in the past or is currently going through.
- Inquiries: see what other lenders have recently requested a credit report on this tenant.
Of course, the most important part is the credit score itself. A good minimum score to look for while tenant screening in Atlanta is 620.
That said, the higher the number, the better. In fact, if you hire an Atlanta property management company to screen tenants for you, they might only lease your property to those with a credit score of 700 or higher. Find out more about our property manager approach here and how we make sure your tenants are the best they can be.
2. Inconsistent Income
Next to creditworthiness, a potential tenant’s employment status and income are the next best ways to determine whether you should lease to them or not.
Here are the red flags to avoid at all costs while performing a tenant screening in Atlanta:
- Income that is not 2-3x the rent rate each month
- Anyone that cannot verify employment or income
- People that lack employment references, whether past or present
- Those with scattered employment
25% of Americans spend half their monthly income on housing and utilities alone. And yes, this includes renters. Of course, for some this is the only choice they have thanks to the national housing and job market. But, you have the choice as a landlord to avoid leasing to people in tough financial situations. After all, your income depends on the monthly rent.
3. Criminal Record
Though a person’s financial status plays a huge role in whether they’ll be a good tenant or not, there’s more to it than money.
During your tenant screening, you should not only run a credit report, but also a background check on anyone looking to lease from you. This will reveal any criminal offenses your prospective tenant have been involved in such as DUIs, drug offenses, disturbances, and driving without a license or insurance.
Of course, just because someone has made mistakes in the past doesn’t mean you’ll have to deal with a problem tenant if you decide to lease to them. But with so much on the line, there’s no reason to risk it. Instead, take these past behaviors as red flags and don’t lease to them.
4. Prior Evictions
If you lease your Atlanta rental property to someone with a past eviction, you’re just asking for trouble. After all, if a tenant failed to pay their rent in the past, chances are high they’ll do it again while leasing from you.
You can detect whether a prospective tenant has had a prior eviction or court judgment requiring payment of rent on the credit report you run. And if you want to be a little bit lenient when it comes to past evictions, aim for no prior evictions within the last 5 years. Just make sure this tenant fits all other criteria perfectly if you do decide to give them a chance.
5. Wanting to Delay the Security Deposit
Any time you lease your Atlanta rental property to anyone, you should request a security deposit. Though not required by law, collecting a security deposit helps to protect you financially if your tenant fails to pay rent during their tenancy or damages your property.
A security deposit is a one-time, refundable fee you collect from tenants before they move in. If your potential tenant tries to negotiate payment after move-in, that’s a huge red flag.
Once the lease is signed and your tenants move in, it can be very difficult to collect on a late security deposit. This not only leaves you financially vulnerable, it sets the tone for the rest of the tenancy. Good tenants will follow all the rules and never try to scam their way out of paying deposits or rent. If your tenant can’t pay the required fees, deposits, and rent rate at the start of their tenancy, you don’t want them leasing from you.
6. Bad References
One thing landlords rely on while tenant screening in Atlanta is a prospective tenant’s references. This includes personal, prior landlord, and employment references.
It’s rare that you’ll ever reach out to a reference and hear bad things about them. But if you do, they’ve just made your job a lot easier.
For example, a previous landlord may mention late rent payments or that most of the security deposit was kept post-tenancy. Or, an employer may say that the tenant is often late to work or doesn’t always get along with everyone.
Though personal references are supposed to be close friends and family that can vouch for your prospective tenant, you should still check all of the references you can. You never know who is going to say something that makes you want to move on to another applicant.
Lastly, if the tenant you’re screening refuses to provide any references, shred the application and move on.
7. Wanting to Move Quickly
Is the tenant your screening wanting to move into your rental property right away? If this is the case, you may want to reconsider approving them.
People who need to move quickly do so for many reasons. But some of the problematic reasons that can negatively affect you include:
- Not being able to pay rent at their current place
- Trying to beat the eviction process by securing a new home fast
- Getting in trouble at their current home
- Being kicked off the couch and forced to find another place to live
Of course, not everyone that needs a place right away is trouble. But it can’t hurt to ask some questions before approving them to lease from you.
Are you hoping to hire a property management company to help you with your Atlanta tenant screening?
Contact Atlantic Property Management today and see how we can ensure quality resident placement in your investment property.
We understand that high-quality tenants mean more money in your pocket. That’s why we strive to make the tenant screening process as seamless and effective as possible. We offer prospective tenants an easy online application, complete with an online payment process. From there, we screen for credit, criminal, income, employment, and residential history to make sure only the best person leases from you.
If this sounds like something you want for your rental property, hire Atlantic Property Management today so you can rest assured only good tenants are leasing from you and your property is safe.