Professional property management in Miami Beach includes a thorough procedure on screening a tenant. Today, we are sharing some professional tips on how to screen a tenant in Miami. If you’re a landlord, there’s nothing more important than knowing how to properly screen a tenant. A bad tenant can cost you a substantial amount of money on unpaid rent, damages, and legal fees. I have a seven-step process to effectively screen tenants.
You must have the prospective tenants complete an application. At a minimum, you’ll want to require the following items from every applicant: the full legal name, date of birth, social security number, current address with rent amount and how long they’ve lived there, current landlord name and contact information, and the names and dates of birth of all other occupants. Have them sign the application and make certain it has the language included that authorizes you to do a background and credit check.
Asking for ID
Always request a copy of a government-issued I.D. for every adult who will reside in the property. This is important to help mitigate the possibility of false identity.
Proof of Income
A high credit score is not always enough. You want to make sure your applicant can afford the rent. I recommend you ask for at least one of the following: the last two paystubs, three most recent bank statements, or last year’s tax statements. Once you have this information, determine their gross annual income. When you combine that for all the applicants, calculate the annual rent for the property and divide it by the gross income. That will tell you what percentage of their income the rent represents. Typically, we recommend that you do not go over 35 to 40 percent rent to income.
You want to know if the applicants have any eviction history. If you don’t have access to a service that can conduct a national eviction search, at the very least you should do a public records search in the municipality where they currently live or have lived in the past.
The same applies with the criminal search as an eviction search. If you can’t conduct a national background check, conduct a public background check within the county.
Always pull a credit report on your applicants. If you’re not sure how to obtain that, you can always ask the tenants to provide one. They can go to one of the three major credit bureaus and request a copy. When looking at the credit report, don’t make a quick decision based on the score. Look at the full credit history to determine what’s going on. For example, an applicant may have had credit issues in the past, but they are actively in the process of improving their credit by making timely payments and paying down debt. I’d rather have that applicant over an applicant whose credit is on the decline because their credit card balances are on the rise. You also want to see if there are any judgments. Sometimes, you might see a judgment from an apartment community.
Always speak with the current landlord or property manager. When the landlord is an individual, I always check the county tax roll to verify the name that the county has for the property owner. You want that to be the same as the name the applicant provided on the application. Sometimes, an applicant will give the information for a friend or family member who is posing as a landlord. When you speak with that landlord, ask the following: verify the tenants have resided at the property, verify the amount that is paid, and verify payment history, so you know if they have paid late or bounced any checks. Ask if they had any pets and if so, how many. Ask if there have been noise complaints and if they gave proper notice. When applicable, ask if they received their full security deposit refund and if not, ask why.
The screening process may seem complex, but I assure you, it’s important to take your time and make sure you have all the information you need to make a good decision on a quality tenant for your property. If you have any questions about tenant screening or anything regarding Miami Beach property management, please contact us at Trident Real Estate.