Tenant Screening: 4 Steps Every Property Manager Should Complete

Tenant Screening: 4 Steps Every Property Manager Should Complete

How Salt Lake City Property Managers Screen Tenants - Wolfnest Property Management - Salt Lake City Property Management

Screening tenants for a rental property is a crucial responsibility for any rental property manager. So, when interviewing property management firms to decide who will take the best care of your rental, make sure you inquire about their tenant screening process. Taking the time to thoroughly investigate the creditworthiness and rental history of prospective tenants is essential to operating a profitable rental property. The manager you choose should be able to explain the process to you, going through each step to make sure tenants are fairly and thoroughly screened.

Why Screen Tenants?

Having a formal tenant screening process reduces risk and maintains high standards for any rental property. It helps companies and owners meet compliance obligations and can save owners thousands of dollars in lost revenue, court costs, and fees. Evicting a tenant is a complicated process, so finding the right tenant in the beginning can also save owners the hassle and cost of an eviction.

How to Screen a Tenant

After understanding the importance of screening tenants for a rental property, it’s critical that you also understand the process your property manager will be using to screen tenants. There are a few necessary steps that you will want to ensure your property manager is doing. During your property manager interview process, make sure a potential property manager does all of the following during tenant screening:


property management utah

1. Conduct Criminal Background Checks

A good first step when screening tenants for a rental property is to check for a criminal history. Property managers can check state and federal criminal records to determine if a potential tenant has a criminal history. They may also check sex offender registries and terrorist watchlists when considering a tenant. 

Note that just because a potential tenant has a criminal history does not mean they won’t be approved by certain property managers. The opinions of Salt Lake City property managers will vary about what types of offenses are the most relevant, but cases involving drugs or violence have a tendency to repeat themselves.

In certain cases, property managers may still accept a tenant with a criminal history. This may be due to the circumstances surrounding the offense, the age of the individual at the time of the offense, rehabilitation efforts, and other considerations. With each property management candidate, discuss their tenant screening process for criminal background checks and what scenarios they might approve a tenant even with a criminal history. 

2. Run Credit Checks

Credit history is another important area to review during the tenant screening process. By running credit checks, you can see if a prospective tenant pays their bills on time and look into an applicant’s debt. Credit reporting agencies require companies pulling credit data to be “accredited,” so make sure any property management company you are interviewing has this accreditation. 

When looking into a prospective tenant’s credit, some property managers in Salt Lake City go strictly by the score, while others will look beyond the score and check payment history, amounts past due, and the ratio between outstanding balances and credit limits to estimate the monthly debt service. Knowing what different property managers look for in a tenant’s credit is imperative to make sure you are on the same page. 

It’s also important to ensure that any property management companies you are considering understand and comply with any regulations, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and involves how and when you can get and take action on consumer reports. Make sure the rental property manager you hire has a policy in place and follows it.

A visual representation of credit score used in the tenant screening process.

3. Verify Income and Employment

It sounds obvious, but making sure your tenant has a verifiable source of income and can reasonably afford their monthly rental payment is the most important part of the tenant screening process. Experienced property managers will take into account the type of rental and location, when considering a tenant’s income, as they affect rent payments and the type of renter you will want. 

For example, a luxury apartment building in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City will require different income standards than a small rental in a less-desirable part of town. Most Salt Lake City property management companies follow the 3x rent rule and require residents to have at least one year of employment at their current job.

Make sure you understand how potential property managers conduct income and employment verification and how they consider applicants based on the rental property.

4. Check Previous Rental History

Ask any Salt Lake City rental property manager and they’ll confirm that accurately verifying rental history is difficult. Tenants don’t provide contact information unless they know a reference will be positive, and as a result, many routinely provide false information. However, experienced property managers should know the best route to get the most complete and accurate rental history from prospective tenants. 

This can include checking local housing court records to determine if a prospect has had any evictions and knowing the right questions to ask a former landlord. A property manager that knows which questions to ask a former landlord will be able to find valuable insight into what type of tenant you can expect.

Tenant Screening with Wolfnest Property Management

Most professional property managers in Salt Lake City will investigate these four areas with prospective tenants because doing so will drastically reduce the number of “bad tenants” they place. Make sure the management company you choose places an emphasis on tenant screening, or you’ll be learning the most valuable lesson in owning rentals: There is no substitute for a good tenant.

If you’d like more tips on how to avoid placing bad tenants in your Salt Lake City Rental property or are looking for rental property management services, then contact us today! We seek to build partnerships with our clients and work together to meet each specific property’s needs. 

Is Your Utah Lease Agreement Strong Enough?

Is Your Utah Lease Agreement Strong Enough?

A tenant filling out an Utah lease agreement.

Managing your own Utah rental property can be tricky. From maintenance to tenant turnover, there are many factors to consider when managing your own property. One of the first and most important parts of successfully renting your property is a strong lease agreement. This is what sets the tone for both yours and your renter’s experience. The lease dictates what is and is not allowed in the home, as well as the rules the renter must comply with in order to live there. If you’re like most owners, you probably Googled “lease agreement” and printed off the first one that looked good. Unfortunately, this is not a sound practice to follow. The lease agreement is the most important part of successful property management and is typically the root of all major problems. Having a rock-solid lease agreement that outlines expectations, acceptable behavior, and consequences are essential to your success as a rental property owner. At Wolfnest, our property management services include crafting strong rental agreements in Utah and ensuring that your property is protected. If you look at your last lease, do you think it’s strong enough? We’re here to help you evaluate your current lease agreements and help you craft stronger ones.

The Benefits of a Utah Lease Agreement

Many lease agreements available on the Internet are not state-specific, and contain generic clauses that may or may not protect your best interests. The goal of a lease agreement should always be that in the event the owner and tenant find themselves in a court dispute, it clearly outlines what the owner and tenant agreed to do. This is why having a specific Utah lease agreement is best since it protects you against specific state laws or city codes. State- or city-specific clauses help solidify your requirements and can come in handy if you ever find yourself in litigation. For example, if you evict a renter for violating a part of their lease, you must have proof, as well have it clearly defined that they violated the lease. This protects you and makes your case easier to win.

A home that is for rent and needs a rental agreement in Utah.

Crafting the Right Rental Agreement in Utah

Every owner has different rules and preferences for their property, so crafting your own lease agreement ensures that all these requirements are stated. If you’re unsure of what you should include, we’re here to help. We have compiled this helpful list of what elements are outlined in most lease agreements. It doesn’t matter whether you’re for or against each part, but each section must be included. Lease agreements aren’t meant to state everything a tenant can’t do. They should be well-rounded and include what is allowed as well, so every aspect of the lease is clear. So, take note of each part and this should help you determine what will be included in your Utah lease agreement.

Smoking

This is one of the most common clauses included in a lease agreement. Whether you’re for or against smoking, this section needs to be very clear to avoid any confusion. Some items this should address include: 

  • Is the tenant and/or their guests allowed to smoke in or on the property? 
  • Is he/she liable for any damage caused by this?
  • Are only cigarettes and cigars prohibited, or does this include vapes as well?

If this is not outlined and agreed to in the lease agreement, it will be difficult to prove in court and you run the risk of not being compensated for damages.

Late Fees

In addition to establishing when rent is due, it’s important to explicitly state what type of fees occur when rent is not paid on time. This should answer the question of, “How much and when will the tenant be charged for late rent?” By clearly stating this, your tenant will be encouraged to pay rent on time.

Animals

Pets tend to be a hot-button issue among homeowners and landlords. While some landlords are fine with having animals in the home, others do not feel the same way. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, it’s important to make that clearly stated to future tenants. This section should address: 

  • Can the tenant have animals on the property? If so, which kind of animals are allowed?
  • Are there any fees associated with having animals in the home?
  • What are the consequences of having an animal without your permission? 

The “Animals” section should also comply with state and city laws regarding what types and how many animals are allowed within a home. Double-check the law surrounding this and ensure that your lease is in compliance.

Pests

Unfortunately, no home is immune to pests. This section of the lease should determine who is responsible for resolving and infestation and if the tenant can hold the owner responsible for any damages due to the pests.

Right of Entry

Although a lease is primarily for prospective tenants, this section actually applies more to the property manager. This establishes when and if the landlord can enter the property, and if he/she has to give notice before.

Utilities

Last but not least, this section of the lease determines who is responsible for which utilities. Typically, the owner covers some (can include water, sewer, and trash) and the tenant covers the rest (gas, electric, and Internet/cable). This section should explicitly state who pays for what so there is no confusion.

 Property Management and Lease Agreements

A couple receiving keys from property management after signing lease agreement.

Experienced property management companies, such as Wolfnest, can help you craft a strong Utah lease agreement so both you and your property are protected. Our property managers can craft a customized and solid lease agreement no matter what type of property you have. In addition to drafting lease agreements, our experienced property management specialists can help cover the day-to-day operations of your rental so you can save time and money. Contact us today and get started on creating the perfect lease agreement!