3 Mistakes Most Landlords Make During Tenant Screening (And How to Avoid Them)

As a homeowner, you know your property can either be a substantial investment or a constant headache. Finding (and keeping) the right tenants can feel like winning the lottery, especially in Central Oregon, one of the country’s fastest-growing regions. Which is why you need a reliable tenant screening process. Not only does tenant screening protect your property and keep rent checks coming in but it also helps to conserve your time and energy down the line. 

Understanding the tenant screening process

Whether you’ve been the renter or the property owner, you’ve likely experienced the tenant screening process firsthand. The screening process serves a few purposes. First, it allows you to learn more about your potential tenant. 

Sure, you can cover the basics and check their credit and criminal background. But you can also request reports regarding “evictions or lawsuits, liens, and judgments, bankruptcies, registered sex offender status, collections, full verification of identity and a check of the social security death index.”

Second, it’s an opportunity to actually speak with potential renters (and their references). All of this information together can help paint a picture of the person who will call your house their home. 

Mistake #1: Signing too soon

According to a recent article by Avail, 60% of landlords accept the first tenant that applies. And that’s often after running through the most basic preliminary tenant screening. We get it. Every day that your property sits unoccupied, you’re losing money on that investment. But in a competitive market like Oregon’s, patience can pay off.

Upping your application requirements (and putting in the due diligence to check those requirements get met) can help you screen for unqualified applicants. Because you don’t always want the first applicant, you want the most qualified. 

Mistake #2: Talking too much

Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” And that sentiment holds weight in the real estate industry. One of the biggest mistakes landlords make during initial screening conversations: talking too much. While it’s essential to disclose important information and answer applicants’ questions, it’s equally important to listen. 

Are they more focused on the quality of local schools or how close the nearest bars are? Are they curious about nearby dog parks even though your listing says No Pets? When you take the time to listen during a tenant screening, you’ll find it’s easy to identify applicants’ priorities (and make sure they’re in line with yours). 

Mistake #3: Violating the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that applies to rental housing across the United States. It prevents discrimination based on seven protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Familial status

It’s rare to find a landlord who intentionally discriminates against an applicant. But accidental violation of the Fair Housing Act happens all too often. And it can cost landlords thousands in legal fees. To avoid this, it’s essential to brush up on your state and local fair housing laws to ensure compliance. 

The simplest way to avoid tenant screening mistakes? 

Let Distinct Dwelling do the work for you! As your full-service property management company, we’re in the business of finding the right tenants for your home. And our work doesn’t end after move-in day. We’ll work to keep your tenants through our exclusive services, proactive inspections, and prompt service. Because happy tenants are long-term tenants. Contact us to learn more about our tenant screening process.