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How to Pick the Perfect Tenant for You

You’ve made a big investment in your rental property, and understandably you want to protect it by finding renters you can rely on. From finding someone who won’t leave you in the lurch when the rent is due to trust that they’ll take care of your property and keep it in good condition, carefully choosing tenants is important. So, what can you do to lower your risk of a disastrous rental experience? We have a few tips that will help you pick the perfect tenant every time you rent: 

Signing document
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Screen Prospective Tenants

One of the best ways to eliminate tenants that are likely to be an issue is by performing a background check. Using SmartMove tenant screening services, you can see their credit history, income insights, criminal record, and eviction history—all of which will help you narrow down your candidates and make an informed decision.

If you’re considering screening prospective tenants, there are a few things you need to keep in mind: 

  • Screen only applicants that you are seriously considering renting to 
  • Get the applicant’s permission before running any kind of background check
  • You cannot exclusively reject a candidate because of criminal background 

That said, tenant screening is a powerful tool that you should use for every rental. 

Set a List of Criteria

Image by Fedorussie from Pixabay

Before you start looking for tenants or accepting applications for your property, you should set a list of criteria you’re looking for. While it’s good to have it in mind, you should also post it on your listing. Some examples of what landlords typically include are: 

  • Income requirements (usually 2.5 to 3 times the rent)
  • Minimum credit score accepted
  • Whether pets are accepted
  • Required deposits (and when they’re due) 
  • Limit on the number of tenants allowed to live in the unit
  • The minimum duration of the lease (month-to-month, 6 months, 12 months, etc.)

Of course, this list will vary depending on your priorities and the demand in your region, but it’s a good starting point. Managing your rental listing is easy with sites like, which are set up for landlords to add and change property details whenever needed.

Pay Attention During the Showing

When you show potential renters the property, it’s a good opportunity to get a sense if they’d be a good fit for your property. While you don’t want it to come off like you’re interrogating them, you can ask questions and get a feel for what they’ll be like to deal with on a regular basis.  

Shaking hands
Image by Markéta Machová from Pixabay

One of the underestimated renter qualities is their ability to communicate with the landlord. Ideally, you’d like to find someone that you feel will be easy to deal with as a tenant. After all, you don’t want someone who becomes irate at every minor inconvenience. 

Even if you’re only able to do a virtual showing on Zoom or another video conferencing platform, you can still get to know your tenants a little better by asking them some questions about themselves, such as: 

  • Why are you looking to move?
  • What are you looking for in a new place to live?
  • Are you looking for a stay in your next place for a long time? 
  • What kind of work do you do?

Based on how open they are about answering these questions, you can learn more about what they’re looking for and what their personality is like. 

Check with Previous Landlords

When prospective tenants submit an application, you can request references from them—usually, two should be sufficient, unless they’ve moved around a lot in recent years, then you may want to dig a little deeper. By reaching out to their previous landlords, you can learn more about how they were as a tenant, including:

  • Any missed rent payments
  • Any substantial damage to the property
  • Had a lot of complaints from neighbors 
  • Did they break any of the terms of their lease 
  • Were they overall a good, reliable tenant 

Some property managers will only provide a report, but others may provide a more in-depth phone interview, but either way, you’ll walk away with more information than you started with. If they do offer to speak with you on the phone, make sure you have a list of questions ready, so you can get the information you’re most interested in quickly. 

Vacancies can cost you a lot, so it’s important to have a system for finding high-quality tenants as quickly as possible. Using these pointers as a guide, you’ll be able to refine your process and take the right steps toward finding the perfect tenant to rent your property.

Featured Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash