No one managing Vancouver rental properties has a crystal ball that will state with certainty whether a tenant will perform as expected once placed in your property. However, with a consistent and rigorous tenant screening process and effective communication, you can expect to find, place, and retain good tenants who will pay rent on time, take care of your property, and follow the terms of the lease agreement.
Most applicants look good on paper. As a landlord, you need to do your due diligence to make sure that everything on the application matches up to what you discover while checking their backgrounds.
As professional Vancouver property managers, we have a system in place that allows us to identify the best tenants. The result is a pleasant rental experience, with lower evictions, less property damage, and a stable, long-term resident for our property owners.
Here’s how we evaluate Vancouver tenants.
Application and Rental Criteria
Before you even begin listing your property and looking for tenants, you’ll want to establish a set of qualifying rental criteria. This is an important way to keep yourself compliant with fair housing laws and it will ensure that every applicant is screened the same way. You’ll also be less likely to act on instinct, which can be dangerous when placing tenants. It’s better to tick to the data, the facts, and the verifying documentation.
Your rental criteria should be written and provided to any potential applicants. This will tell prospective tenants exactly what you’re looking for when you screen. It might include a minimum credit score, income standards, and other particulars such as no evictions in the last 10 years or being employed at the same job for at least a year. The details and the criteria are up to you – just make sure they aren’t discriminatory.
Every adult resident 18 years of age and older should be required to complete and sign an application.
Checking Credit and Criminal History
It’s a good idea to start with the basics when you’re screening tenants. Look at criminal history and run a credit check. A minor charge from 25 years ago may not matter, however a history of violent crimes might disqualify someone from living in your property, especially if their presence would put neighbors in danger.
Credit history is an important tool because it gives you an idea of how this particular applicant has handled finances, debt, and bill payment in the past. However, you’re unlikely to find too many applicants with a perfect credit score. Take into consideration the recent economic struggles that many people have faced. Instead of focusing on the credit score, you might look at whether they’ve managed to keep up with their housing bills. If the rent or the mortgage hasn’t been in default and all the utility bills are current, this applicant might be a good tenant even if they’re struggling to make credit card payments or they have some extreme medical debt that’s dragging their credit score down.
One thing to look for on the credit report is money owed to former landlords or apartment buildings. That could be a red flag. You should also do a national eviction search to ensure your prospective tenant has not been evicted recently.
Verify Income and Employment
You’ll know an applicant is a good tenant if they can pay rent on time every month. This requires that you check their income. Typically, Vancouver property management companies want to see income that’s at least three times the monthly rent. Don’t take the tenant’s word for it when they tell you what they earn. Ask to see pay stubs that demonstrate their income. If none are available because the applicant is self-employed or retired, you can ask for bank statements or tax records. Something should be in writing to document how much income they have to pay for housing and related expenses.
Consider Rental History
A tenant’s past performance is a good indication of their future performance. You’ll want to examine their rental history and make sure there aren’t any unexplained gaps or missing information for landlords and property managers that they’ve rented from in the past. Consider calling those references to ask about their experience. Find out:
- If rent was paid on time and if not, how many times it was late.
- If property damage was left behind.
- If lease violations were detected.
- If enough notice was provided before they vacated.
- If there were pets and if so, whether there was any pet damage.
- If the entire security deposit was returned.
- If the landlord or property manager would rent to that tenant again.
This will give you a good idea about whether your applicant will be a positive tenant or a negative tenant.
The resident you choose has a large impact on your experience as a landlord. Tenant screening needs to be taken seriously and prioritized when you’re renting out your property. If you’d like some help finding a good tenant or you have any questions related to Vancouver property management, please contact us at Utmost Property Management.