Property Management Blog

How to Make Sure You're Doing Tenant Screening Correctly

Warwick Downs - Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Data from the Census Bureau states that over a third of housing units in the US are rented, and the number of renters is likely to increase in the coming years.

With so many different tenants in the country, it's important to have a system for narrowing down potential renters. This process is known as tenant screening, and there are a few different ways to do it.

Usually, you'll be looking for the same set of criteria and disqualifiers as most other property managers. How you properly screen tenants, especially in the Los Angeles area, is what we'll discuss in this article.

Decide on Criteria

The first and arguably most important part of screening tenants is to decide on the criteria. What's the minimum or maximum lease period? Will the property come unfurnished? 

If you're unsure what the landlord desires, we encourage you to talk to them and see if they'll give you a detailed answer. You could also look over a standard rental agreement and make suggestions if you think it would help.

Don't Discriminate

It probably goes without saying, but you should avoid discriminating against applicants. Fortunately, the state of California makes this much easier because it's illegal to ask questions about personal lives.

In truth, the only personal information you can ask about are things that will be immediately relevant to their potential tenancy. Do they have a pet? How many people will be living in the unit?

Run a Background Check

Among the most common tools property managers use are background checks. These checks will tell you if the new tenants have any kind of criminal record.

We should note that this a controversial issue because several states have enacted or are pushing to enact a "ban the box" law. This law would make it illegal to refuse tenants based on their criminal record. It would also make those with criminal records a protected class.

As of yet, California doesn't consider previous offenders a protected class, although this could change in the future.

Credit Checks

Credit checks are a much more widely-accepted method of tenant screening. After all, if someone has a history of being bad with money, it's reasonable to assume that they might not be the right tenant.

This is especially important now, because, with rental rates skyrocketing, there will likely be an influx of tenants looking for an affordable rental units.

A Guide to Tenant Screening

Tenant screening is an important process for any landlord. It's also easy to make mistakes when screening for tenants.

The good news is that we're happy to help. We've discussed some of the important steps to take in this article, but tenant screening is far from simple.

If you want to know more about being a landlord in Los Angeles, please visit our site. If you're looking for a property manager in the Los Angeles area, we encourage you to contact us. We'll be happy to help.