What to Look for When Choosing a Tenant

As a rental property owner, you are well aware that the soundness of your investment relies upon your property actually being occupied. But the quality of your tenant can also play a huge role. It is the dream of every landlord to have tenants who are responsible, tidy, clean, and who pay on time – the challenge lies on finding that type of tenant and holding on to them. Whether you are a first time landlord or have encountered challenges with tenants in the past, it is important that you know what to look for when choosing a tenant.  By being selective, you spare yourself a need to take legal action. At Rothamel Law Attorneys at Law, we have assisted many of our clients both in crafting lease agreements that protect their investment and in resolving legal issues, and we know that the best case scenario is to avoid problems in the first place.

The first thing that every landlord needs to understand is that they have an obligation to adhere to federal fair housing rules. This is a legal responsibility.  You need to be sure that your selection of a tenant is in no way discriminatory in terms of race or color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. If you need to acquaint yourself with state or federal law with this regard, take the time to do so.

Though you may not make a selection of tenant based on any of the factors listed above without facing possible legal action. However, you are advised to follow certain guidelines for all applicants in order to protect your property and your financial wellbeing. The five items that you want to make sure that you address are:

  • Checking to make sure that a potential tenant has good credit – The best way to do this is to confirm that they are employed and verify their income and to run a credit check. You do not want a tenant who has a history of not paying their bills on time or whose income to debt ratio makes paying the rent a burden.
  • Run a criminal background check – Though you may find that a person has minor offenses on their record which do not preclude them being a good tenant, other items such as a record or committing violent crimes or selling drugs should be a deal breaker.
  • Check to see if they have rented before, and speak to previous landlords – This will let you know whether they have been timely in their rent payments and whether they were respectful of both property and neighbors.
  • Check for stability – A tenant who has moved frequently or who has not had a stable employment history is not likely to change their pattern. If you are looking for a long-term tenant instead of having to go through the process over and over again, this is something to keep in mind.
  • Confirm their occupancy needs and your occupancy limits – Many landlords have found themselves facing issues with tenants who do not advise them of how many people will be living in the apartment. Make your rules clear and include them in your lease to head off future problems.

If you need assistance in creating a lease agreement or in resolving a tenant issue, contact the attorneys at Rothamel Law today. We are here to help.