Quick Guide to Effective Tenant Screening in Newport News

Renting out your home in Newport News, VA, can be a great financial decision! When you lease out a property, you can earn stable passive income while growing your equity. However, to ensure your rental succeeds, you’ll need to find great tenants that want to stay for the long term.

That’s where a thorough tenant screening process comes in! Though many landlords skip this step, tenant screening can save you a lot of time, money, and energy in the long run. A comprehensive tenant screening process lets you spot problematic tenants from the get-go and helps ensure only the most reliable tenants occupy your property.

At Redsail Property Management, we know that screening tenants can be a time-consuming process. But, with over seven years of experience in the real estate industry, we’re able to help landlords optimize their screening process and land qualified tenants faster!

Keep reading to learn the best tips and tricks for screening tenants in Newport News!

How to Screen Tenants Effectively

The tenant screening process doesn’t have to be overly complicated. To help you get started, we’ve summarized it in six simple steps.

Step 1. Set Your Criteria

Before you start the screening process, you need to make a list of the qualities you’re looking for in a tenant. This will help ensure you find renters that meet your expectations. Common criteria landlords should look for in applicants include:

  • Can afford rent
  • Has a stable income
  • Has good references from former landlords

A property manager in a black suit tells a client about the resuts of a tenant screening
When setting your criteria, keep fair housing laws in mind. The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from turning down prospective tenants based on their race, nationality, religion, sex, disability, and familial status, among other characteristics.

To ensure you comply with fair housing laws, keep your process non-discriminatory. You can do this by making the screening process a standard across all your rentals.

Step 2. Pre-Screen Tenants

Pre-screening can save you a lot of time, especially if your rental property has many applicants. You can start by adding some key requirements to your rental property listing. This will help you weed out unqualified renters from the start.

Then, take the time to meet prospective renters in person. A simple way to do this is to show them the property yourself. Plus, you can use this time to ask them questions and see if they might be a good fit for your rental.

Step 3. Review Applications

Having prospective tenants fill out an application form is a great way to screen and vet renters. In your rental application form, you should ask for essential information such as

  • Applicant’s full name
  • Contact information
  • Current address. If they’re currently renting, it’s also a good idea to ask for their landlord’s name and contact information
  • Rental history, including previous landlords’ names and contact information
  • Employment history, including information about their current job
  • Current income, you can even ask for proof such as pay stubs
  • Credit score and background check authorization
  • References

This information will give you a general idea of what a renter is like and whether they will suit your rental.
a property manager sits in a bright yellow armchair they have a long ponytail and wear a black blazer and white camisole while reviewing a tenant application
It’s important to reach out to references, including former landlords. This will give you insights into what kind of tenants you’re dealing with. Also, don’t forget to do a credit and background check for every tenant. This will help you ensure that your tenants are trustworthy and will take good care of your home.

Step 4. Talk with Former Landlords

When screening tenants, contacting former landlords is a must. Only someone who’s rented to them in the past can give insight into what kind of renters they are.

Step 5. Analyzing Credit Reports and Background Checks

Conducting credit score and background checks on prospective tenants goes a long way. For instance, a credit report can provide insights into a prospective renter’s finances. If an applicant has good credit, they’re likely to make payments on time.

However, even those with good credit may miss payments, and those with below-average credit may always pay rent on time, so use the information from their credit check in tandem with their landlord references.

Criminal and background checks are also of utmost importance. Even if a renter looks great on their application, we recommend doing a background check.

Step 6. Accept or Deny Applications

After completing the steps above, it’s time to determine whether you want to accept an applicant. Once you’ve found a perfect match for your rental, we recommend calling or emailing them to let them know you’ve selected them.
outline lease agreement clauses to your tenants
Then, start drafting a solid lease agreement and getting your property ready to welcome them.

As for the other applicants, be sure to decline their application in writing. Keep your correspondence brief and professional. We recommend not giving a reason why you’re declining their application unless an applicant asks for it.

Bottom Line

Tenant screening is essential to keep your investment protected and your rental business profitable. When screening tenants, it’s crucial to have a list of requirements they must meet, ask them to fill out a rental application, and conduct various checks.

If you don’t have time to screen tenants, don’t worry! The team at Redsail Property Management can do it for you. Our thorough screening process will help us place great tenants in your rental in no time. Contact us to learn more!