Updated January 12, 2022
Finding (and keeping) the best renters means real estate investors in Atlanta rental properties can never take a break from thorough and fair tenant screening practices— even during tough times.
We know it's challenging to lose renters (or income that renters can't pay) during an economic crisis. It's also true that an empty property loses valuable income every day that it sits without a resident. However, relaxing your screening process to replace a renter who had to move out due to income loss is never a smart way to rebuild income.
While the tenant screening process is always important, we would argue that it's almost more critical during times of crisis. It's well documented that rental scams are on the rise—and these scams burn excellent renters and rental property owners alike.
Our professional Atlanta property management screening process is far more comprehensive than what we've found other property managers and owners use because we've invested in A.I.-driven screening technology. We put that to work for you as the property owner when finding new renters during a recession or crisis.
Here's why it matters.
Rent Scammers Love a Crisis
Property owners are always at risk of being scammed by "professional tenants" looking for a quick place to stay. However, these scammers are especially drawn to crises or periods of economic turmoil, when landlords may be more willing to let their screening rules slide to fill a vacancy.
Some of the things a professional tenant may try to take advantage of during times of crisis:
- A knee-jerk reaction to needing a new renter fast. When a current resident can no longer pay the rent, you could mistakenly place a risky renter in your Atlanta rental property, which leaves you susceptible to professional renters taking advantage.
- Use hard times as an excuse. Professional renters try to pay rent late or not at all, cause property damage, and knowingly violate the lease rules. However, on paper, Professional Tenants do their best to look like excellent potential renters. An Atlanta property management company can help spot signs of these types of scammers before they get a chance to do damage to your rental property.
- Take advantage of lax tenant screening procedures. It's easy to miss the red flags without following a thorough tenant screening process.
Renting to a professional tenant is not worth the risk. Even in times of seeming desperation, take your time screening potential renters, and you'll be much better off in the long run!
Avoiding Bad Renters Requires Screening — Every Time
All it takes is one instance of skipping the screening process to allow bad renters into your Atlanta rental properties.
You might experience an applicant that looks great on their application and offers rental payments up front in cash to move in right away. While that's a tempting offer, it's an offer you should refuse until you apply your screening practices to the information on the application.
What Should Rental Property Owners Look For When Screening a Potential Renter?
If you don't have an Atlanta property management company to handle renter screening and leasing for you, investors should follow the law and run background checks to learn more about an applicant. Professional Tenants lie on applications—and it's up to you or a property manager to investigate the information and find the truth before it's too late.
When screening for new renters, an expert property manager requires:
- A driver's license or state-issued ID
- A valid Social Security Number
- Date of birth.
We can run a thorough legal screening to gather necessary information that helps us qualify or deny a potential renter with this information. A comprehensive screening process will help you weed out the "professional tenants" and find the best renters for your property.
Keep It Legal
While a new resident must meet legal criteria to move into your property, we're careful not to violate fair housing laws through our screening process.
Following the law can be tricky, but you might be surprised at the amount and quality of information that's legally available and allowed to influence your renter selection process. Rental property owners cannot choose or deny a renter based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or physical or mental disability.
However, property managers are experts at applying the following information when screening new renters, including:
- Criminal background check. A comprehensive criminal background check gathers information from numerous law enforcement agencies to provide a complete picture of your applicant's history. State and federal records, as well as databases like Most Wanted lists and the Sex Offender Registry, offer a comprehensive examination of your tenant's past actions and potential for future criminality.
- Credit report. A credit report is a detailed account of an individual's credit history. It includes information about the individual's credit score, credit utilization, and payment history. A credit report can be used to assess an individual's creditworthiness and ability to pay the monthly rent.
- Eviction history. This could reveal prior evictions, court records, tenant judgments, and writs and warrants of eviction, all indicators of past failure to pay rent.
- Employment History. To establish this, you'll need to examine the job history of your applicant. This consistency is an indication that they will continue to work, which means they will be able to pay rent. Long gaps of unemployment aren't necessarily negative; however, they should be mentioned beforehand.
- Proof of income. To verify the potential tenant's ability to pay rent, you may need to request proof of income such as pay stubs or a letter from the employee HR department of the prospective tenant's employment.
- Proof of employment. Similarly, you may want to request records verifying current and continuing employment and employment status, such as full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal employment.
- Landlord references. You should ask for references from previous landlords. You should also verify they were trustworthy, paid rent on time, and maintained the property.
Additionally, suppose you allow pets in your rental properties. In that case, a property management company can perform a pet screening to make sure you know what types of pets your residents will bring along as part of their family.
When handled correctly, this private information is valuable to help determine the quality of a rental property applicant. However, if you're not familiar with how to legally obtain, manage, store, and apply this information during the tenant screening process, one of the best Atlanta property management companies is your best resource for this critical process.
One discrimination claim can lead to an expensive lawsuit — or shutting down your rental property business. However, real estate investors can't afford to skip the screening process without risking a costly situation with a bad renter that moves into your Atlanta rental property.
Avoid Risky Renters With Atlanta Property Management
Real estate investors need to heighten their safety protocols and enhance their screening methods in challenging times. Maintaining steady rental income can be tough enough when your residents lose jobs during an economic crisis. A bad renter who refuses to pay rent and damages your property creates a more expensive situation than experiencing a few weeks without a renter while searching for the ideal new resident.
There's no need to stress about new renters during a crisis — or any time — when you have the experienced Atlanta property management services of Revolution Rental Management, formerly known as GTL Real Estate. We never relax our screening methods, and we also guarantee that you'll have a high-quality renter in 21 days or less, or we waive the leasing fee. Plus, we can handle all aspects of residential property management, so you don't have to.
Contact us to learn more about our renter screening and placement services!