What Should Landlords Look For in Rental Applications?

Owning rental properties can be a great way to grow your assets and secure consistent income. If you recently purchased a rental home or apartment, it’s time to find the right occupants so you can start reaping these benefits. But first-time landlords may find it tricky to effectively screen potential tenants.

So, what should you look for in a rental application form? This guide will break down some of the most important criteria that landlords should look for in applicants. By having specific standards, you can ensure that your tenants pay their rent on time, honor their lease, and cause few conflicts. 

Good credit 

One of the main criteria that landlords should look into is the applicant’s credit standing. A good credit score indicates that the applicant can handle their finances and pay their bills on time. Keep in mind that you need to pay to check your applicant’s credit, so consider charging a credit check fee with the rental application.

As part of this financial screening, you should ask for proof of income. Then compare their income to their outstanding debt. All of these factors can indicate whether they will pay their security deposit and rent reliably and on time.

Legal standing 

You should run a background check on all of your rental applicants. You can likely outsource this screening to a background check company. Once you get the results, look for a history of evictions and other landlord-tenant law violations. Check whether they have any legal trouble for unpaid fees like child support.

You may want to reject applications with a history of frequent legal trouble, especially if it relates to drugs, violent crimes, and theft. However, be sure to check with your states laws before rejecting an applicant based on criminal history. Some states restrict a landlord’s ability to reject an applicant due to certain types of crimes.

Rental history 

Applicants should be required to submit contact information for their previous landlords or property managers. Contact those landlords and ask whether the tenant owes any payments and how long they lived in the property. Ask whether they took care of the property and if the tenant paid their utility bills on time.

You can also ask about any conflicts the landlord may have had with the tenant. Some landlords will be available to answer your questions over the phone, while others will prefer to write a recommendation in writing. Just be sure to stick to the facts when asking past landlords about their experience. 

Number of occupants 

Landlords cannot create a maximum occupancy for their apartments to keep families with children from living there. However, you can limit the number of residents in a house or apartment due to health and safety concerns. A general standard for occupancy limits is allowing two people per bedroom plus one additional tenant.

So, a couple could live in a two-bedroom apartment with three children. You may need to reduce this number based on the home’s square footage and the septic system’s capacity. If you are worried about your own occupancy limits, be sure to consult a lawyer.

By preparing to screen tenants for your new rental property, you can ensure that the application process goes as smoothly as possible. Carefully compare results of each tenant screening to choose the best possible occupant. By doing so, you can ensure that the tenant sticks to the lease, pays rent on time, and presents few conflicts while living there. And if you do your part as a landlord, you can keep this tenant in the property long term.