When you become a landlord, your first order of business is to get a tenant into your property. You need to do this quickly so that you can start making some money off of your investment. If you took out a loan to buy the property, the matter is even more urgent because you need to be able to make the mortgage payment.
However, you do not want to let yourself be too rushed by this process. Choosing reliable tenants is your number one priority. It is not enough to get someone into the property. You must find someone you can trust to pay their rent on time every month. This may prove to be harder than you think.
The first thing you have to do is come up with a rental application. There are many forms you can use online for free, or you can purchase a landlord forms package. The later is typically recommended, because the forms are more complete and professional.
The rental application should require the full name of the individual, their current address and phone number, and their social security number. It should offer space to list various forms of employment and other income to be considered. It should also offer space to list previous landlords going back five years. At the bottom of the form should be a place for them to sign. Above the signature should be a statement that everything on the form is accurate, and that they consent to verification of the information as well as a credit and background check.
Once the application is complete, you should verify the information on the application. Contact their employer to verify income, and contact their previous landlords to ensure they were not evicted, gave notice of moving, and do not owe any past due damages or rent. If everything checks out, you can move on to the next step.
Getting a credit check and background check on potential tenants is easier than you might think. There are many web sites that offer the ability to run a check on someone for as little as fifteen dollars. More complex checks may cost a bit more. If the check does not include a background check, get information from your local government about how you might obtain this. Some states, such as Missouri, have a court system site you can search by name, and discover if they have had any judgments or convictions, and it is absolutely free.
You can ask for an application fee from potential tenants to help offset the costs of the credit and background check, as well as compensate you for your time. This not only ensures you incur no out of pocket expenses in screening tenants, but it also ensures that only truly interested individuals apply.