Screen Potential Tenants

How to Screen Potential Tenants in Maryland?

Being a landlord of a rental property in Maryland you must know how important it is to hire a good tenant. With them you can sleep easy at night because you know the rent will get paid and the property will stay relatively undamaged. With a bad tenant on the other hand, it becomes tough for the landlords to manage the rental property and think about their landlords while attending the calls from angry neighbors.

Actually the main problem while selecting the tenant is that he/she can act like the best tenant during the initial walk-through. And this is the reason why it’s important to screen every potential tenant thoroughly before allowing them to occupy your property. So, if you want to make sure you are getting the best tenant for your rental unit or apartment in Maryland then make sure to screen potential tenants.

There are two options to hire the best tenant for your rental apartment in Maryland. Hire a rental property management company or do it yourself. Doing it yourself is not easy and you may face many challenges while screening the potential tenants in Maryland. If you want the easiest ways to find new tenants then invest in a property management company in Maryland. They will work for you to find the best tenants after thoroughly screening them.

But, if you want to save money then do it yourself. Screening a tenant is not too difficult if you know the right steps. Below are the right steps to screen potential tenants, follow them and hire the best tenant for your rental property in Maryland.

Steps For Screening Potential Tenants

1. Create Rent Application Form

Rental application form is a document provided by the property owners or landlords to the prospective tenants. This application is used for screening potential tenants and deciding whether or not the tenant is eligible to hire for the rental property.

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This form is used for accessing the tenants’ personal and professional information like his/her employment status, credit history, background, leasing history, etc. to make the right decision of allowing him or her to occupy the property.

So, have your own application form and make sure the tenants will fill this form in order to rent the property. You can either download the template of the rental application form online or you can create your own personalized form. But, make sure the application covers everything you want to know about a tenant. Here are the things you must include in the rental application form: –

  • Current and previous employers
  • Current income level
  • Contact information of previous landlords
  • Current address
  • Financial information- to know their ability to pay the rent each month
  • Lifestyle information like the number or type of pets they can have also the number of occupants can live in the property.

Ask the potential tenants to fill the application form and give it back to you. But, before starting screening the tenants, make sure the tenants have filled the form properly and not excluded any information. If something is missing then the tenant must be trying to hide something.

2. Run a Credit Check

Usually it’s the landlord who covers the cost of credit or background check but, some states law allow the landlords to charge the tenant for the cost of credit and background check. Credit check will help you to get the details about the tenant’s credit history.

Let’s see how you can check or review the credit report:-

See just one or two late payments of the rent in the past do not show that he/she is the bad tenant. You may need to look for something extra to know about their previous credit history. Check accounts, late payments, charged off credit card accounts, or any major issues like bankruptcy. If the tenant uses mostly credit cards, carried hefty loads and also have many unpaid balances then he/she may struggle in paying the monthly rent.

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3. Run a Background Check

This will give you a detailed report of the potential tenant’s past. There are many formal companies that offer investigative services for a fee and they can help you to get the details of the tenant’s eviction history, criminal history, credit history and many other records. So, you can order a background check through such companies in Maryland. But, whether doing it yourself or hired professional for the task, consider the following to do the background check: –

  • Eviction

If the tenant has been evicted then you may want to rethink on your decision of renting to the person. Try to know the reason behind the eviction.

  • Criminal records

Accepting a known criminal as your tenant can put your other tenants in problem and yourself in danger. So, while selecting the tenant make sure he or she has no serious criminal record.

4. Contact the Previous Landlords

Landlord calls the former landlord to know about the tenant’s payment history and also to check whether or the tenant has informed the landlord that he or she is moving. You may have no rights to invade someone’s privacy, but you can ask some basic questions to the landlords about the tenant’s lifestyle.

Questions to Ask a Former Landlord:

  1. How the tenant uses to pay the rent?
  2. What major damages in the rental unit has caused by the renter?
  3. Does the tenant have a history of late payments?
  4. Does the tenant have any outstanding debt?
  5. How was the tenant’s behavior with the neighbors while living there?
  6. Would you like to hire the tenant again in future?
  7. Did the tenant get his or her security deposit when moving out?

5. Contact the Tenant’s Employer

Every landlord wants to hire a tenant with steady and reliable income to ensue he will get the payment on the due date positively. So, you should verify the tenant’s income status before allowing him or her to sign the rental agreement or lease. You can either get the last month paystub or you can directly contact the employer to learn more.

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6. Interview the Tenant

If after background check, you feel like allowing the tenant to rent your property then you should consider a quick phone interview with the tenant. This is because, when the tenants visit to see the rental home, you and the tenant only talk about the qualities of the apartment or house. So, this time you will have to ask a few questions to your tenant as well to know more about him or her. But, remember that the landlord cannot discriminate based upon color, caste, religion, family status, disability, nationality, or gender.

Questions to Ask a Tenant:

To screen the potential tenants in Maryland, it is important to ask a few questions to them to get some more information about them. Here’s know what type of questions you must ask a tenant during the personal interview:-

  • What types of pets you have? How old are they? Are they housebroken?
  • Do you have any plan of getting a roommate in the future?
  • Do you work day shifts, night shifts or odd hours?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you have such friends or relatives who use to spend the night in your home?

All the answers of the question will help you to select the right tenant you feel the best amongst others and you want him/her to occupy your rental house in Maryland.

Final Word

Being a landlord it’s your responsibility and duty to screen every potential tenant. There’s just too much of risk if you allow the tenant to rent your apartment without screening him/her. After all, no landlord would like to go through the process of evicting a tenant. And this also doesn’t mean that you should become a detective every time you get potential tenant, rather use your instincts and try to get a feel for the tenant and then carry on with the screening process.

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