Quick Guide to Effective Tenant Screening in Norman

One of the most important activities when managing a rental property is finding a qualified, long-term tenant you can trust. To do this, you’ll need to conduct a thorough screening of all prospective tenants to get the relevant information.

By effectively screening the prospects, you’ll be in a better position to place the right tenants in your properties and secure your rental income.

There are a number of steps involved in formulating a comprehensive screening process. In this article, you’ll learn the fundamentals of tenant screening to help you understand how to effectively screen your tenants so as to find the most suitable candidates for placement.

How to Identify Quality Tenants

Before you begin the screening process, there are certain attributes you need to look out for. These are early indicators of the tenant's character and they can help you decide on their suitability. Some of these qualities include:

  • Their financial status. You need to identify the candidates that can afford to pay the rent consistently.
  • Their rent payment history. Check on their rent payment patterns with prior landlords. Be sure to select the candidates that show consistency in their payments.
  • Candidates with no relevant criminal history.
  • Candidates that display responsible behavior.
  • Prospects with good credit scores.
  • Prospects with solid references.


The Steps Involved in Tenant Screening

With these qualities in mind, here’s how to find this information and successfully screen prospective tenants:

Pre-screening the Candidates

This is an important step that helps you decide on your expectations for the candidates. Pre-screening the prospects is also vital in identifying potential red flags early so as to avoid wasting time with a more in-depth screening down the line. When pre-screening the Norman, OK candidates, you should:

  • Prepare a list of requirements for your ideal tenant.
  • Meet with each of the candidates in person.
  • Ask open-ended questions that will help you establish whether the candidate meets your expectations.

The main purpose of this stage is to highlight the candidates who are in line with your expectations. Pre-screening also saves you time by helping you select candidates that are genuinely interested in your property.

Reviewing the Tenancy Applications

A tenancy application form is used to collect vital information about the candidate. When preparing an application form, be sure to request the following information:

  • The applicants’ full names and contact details.
  • Their current residence and their landlord’s name and contact information.
  • Their previous residences and the names and contacts of any previous landlords.
  • Their employment history, including the names of their current and previous employers, job titles, the length of their employment, and their work references.
  • Consent to conduct credit and background checks.
  • Their stated income to ensure that they’ll be able to consistently meet the payment deadlines.


Verifying the Candidates’ Employment and Level of Income

It’s vital that you take time to verify the candidate’s employment history and their stated income. To verify the information provided, be sure to contact each of the applicants’ references.

As you speak with their current and former employers, look for potential inconsistencies in their stories. An inconsistent description of a candidate is a red flag.

On the other hand, if everything checks out, then it shows the candidate is trustworthy and has the necessary finances to afford rent.

Reaching Out to Prior Landlords

Contacting the applicants’ current and previous landlords will give you some insight into their character.

However, to get a more accurate description, place more emphasis on the information provided by the previous landlords. In some instances, the current landlord may be desperate for the tenant to leave, even if it means presenting a false picture.

You should also be wary of applicants that provide false contacts when asked about their previous landlords. Such candidates may ask someone they know to pretend to be their prior landlord to secure the rental.

To find out if the contacts are legitimate, start by asking about any available vacancies on the landlord’s property.

Conducting Background Checks and Analyzing Credit Reports

After requesting copies of the candidates’ credit reports, you should analyze their credit scores. In practice, it’s recommended that you select candidates with a minimum credit score of 680. In most cases, such candidates are in a good financial position to make the rental payments.


However, landlords may accept candidates with a lower credit score depending on their judgment of the specific situation. In addition to credit checks, landlords are advised to conduct background checks relating to:

  • The candidates’ financial history.
  • Verification of their social security numbers.
  • Possible criminal history.
  • The national sex offender registry.
  • Any cases of previous tenant evictions.

These background checks are necessary to secure your rental income and to avoid any potential issues with the tenants. It’s important that the candidates demonstrate financial responsibility as well as the ability to live in harmony with their neighbors.

Accepting or Declining a Tenancy Application

After going through all the relevant information, you’ll need to decide on whether to accept or reject a tenancy application. The decision on the application should be communicated to the candidate in writing.

If you decide to accept an application, you should outline the next steps that the candidate should take to secure their tenancy, such as signing the lease agreement.

If you choose to decline the application, display some courtesy to the candidate and ensure that your reason for declining an application is in line with the Fair Housing Laws.

Final Thoughts

A comprehensive tenant screening process is an effective tool used in identifying and placing quality tenants. When done correctly, tenant screening can provide you with the necessary insight into the candidate’s character. This helps to place suitable candidates who will take good care of your property.

If you need help with your property, our professional team at Draper Realty will utilize their vast experience to ensure your rental investment provides the best possible returns. Get in touch with us today for more information on our property management services.

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