You’re a young landlord, with one or two properties under your belt to rent out. You don’t have the time or money to screen tenants the traditional way. However, you also can’t afford to make a bad decision when it comes to choosing someone to live in your property — one bad tenant, and you could be facing hundreds to thousands of dollars’ worth of damage or unpaid rent, with no one to pay for it. So, how can you screen tenants without spending days or tons of cash doing it? The answer is simple: by using technology.
There are a number of ways you can use technology to screen tenants. Below are four of the most effective methods:
1. Use an online rental application.
There are a number of online rental applications available, such as MyRental and RentSpree. These applications make it easy for you to collect important information from prospective tenants, such as employment history, rental history, and income. You can also use these applications to run background checks and credit checks with the click of a button. RentSpree’s basic package is free, and it can do handle rental applications, screen tenants, get e-signatures, look for rental insurance, and get rent payments. However, it can do much more if you pay for their Pro plan at around $10 a month. MyRental’s prices are steeper at $25 per applicant, but it does deeper background checks on each tenant, getting information such as eviction history, previous address history, related terrorist alerts, multi-state criminal status, and multi-state sex offender status. Other examples include TenantCloud, ClearScreening, and RentPrep.
If you want to do these background checks yourself, you can access legal databases such as the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) service and the National Sex Offender Registry website. However, it will be hard to look for previous addresses and eviction history if someone is trying to hide it. If you ask for this information in your application form and it is provided by the applicant, you can contact previous landlords yourself by phone or social media to verify anything.
2. Use an online form to get information from applicants
An online form is a great way to gather information from applicants because it is easy to use and easy to customize. You can tailor the questions on the form to get the information that you need, and you can make the form as long or as short as you want. You can also require that applicants fill out the form completely before submitting their application, which will help you weed out unqualified candidates immediately. You can make it easier if you connect your form to a spreadsheet; one example of this is using Google Forms in tandem with Google Sheets.
Another advantage of using an online form is that it is secure. You can require that applicants input their personal information, such as their name, contact number, email address, and rental guarantor into the form. These are important since in case you let a tenant rent, you should be able to contact them or their rental guarantee service as their landlord. With an online form, you can ensure that this information is visible to only you. This will help protect your applicants’ personal information and will keep your screening process confidential.
3. Conduct video interviews.
You can use Skype, Google Hangouts, or even FaceTime to conduct video interviews with prospective tenants. This is a great way to get to know someone without having to meet in person. Plus, it’s a great way to save time. Simply schedule a 30-minute video call and ask the applicant questions about their job, their previous landlords, their credit score, and anything else you feel is important. If you have asked for this information previously using a form (such as a Google Form), you can take this opportunity to find out whether they told the truth or not. This is also a great time to figure out their personality. For one thing, most landlords would prefer tenants who are not careless or inconsiderate. You would not want tenants who make noise or damage your property, either.
4. Utilize social media.
Social media is a great way to screen tenants. First, you can check an applicant’s social media profiles to see if they’re someone you’d feel comfortable renting to. Many people post a lot of things about their personal lives on social media, so from their profiles, you can already guess about candidates’ income, lifestyle, and personality. Second, you can use social media platforms like Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist to post about your opening to find potential tenants. Just be sure to meet in person before making any decisions. Don’t hesitate to ask other landlords, too; you can talk to them on websites such as BiggerPockets.
Screening tenants doesn’t have to be a stressful or time-consuming process. By utilizing technology, you can easily and quickly screen tenants from the comfort of your own home. The easiest way is to get a rental application and screening service, but you can definitely do it yourself. Time to look for tenants and make some profits!