Vetting Residents and Why it Matters
● By Hood Magazine
Becoming an accidental landlord can happen when homeowners put their home for sale during a weak housing market. When they realize the house won’t sell, renting the house until the market strengthens is often the best solution.
However, it can be nerve-wracking to think of a stranger living in what was just months before your own home. Here are some ways to ensure your peace of mind when placing a tenant in your rental property.
Vacancy is an emergency. A vacant property bleeds cash in the form of lost rent and utility costs that could be passed on to the resident. Just like flinching from a hot stove, it can be tempting to try to remove the pain by placing the first resident who comes along. But at what cost? In many situations, this is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. A poor tenant placement can mean rent still doesn’t come in to pay the mortgage. But worse, because the property is now occupied, a paying resident cannot be placed. Cost can also come in the form of property damage caused by a poor resident placement.
Here are some examples of residents vetted out that would have been placed without a good process.
- A previous landlord found that the applicant had started multiple fires at the property during their tenancy.
- A South Dakota criminal check was run and found an applicant with multiple convictions.
- An applicant had a wad of cash, but no monthly income.
It is essential to vet potential tenants before accepting them. Good vetting can mean that there are a few more days of vacancy. However, the cost of good vetting far outweighs the cost of a bad resident placement.
Here are the checks to conduct on every applicant over the age of 18:
- Verify Income greater than 3x rent
- Credit check
- National criminal check
- South Dakota criminal check
- Sex offender check
- Check social media accounts
- Previous landlord references
Remember, criminal activity committed in South Dakota does not show up on national criminal checks. You have to make a special request at the courthouse to pull South Dakota criminal records.
While vetting is important, equally important is how the checks are interpreted and used for qualifications. All qualifications must be fairly and equally applied so the manager or landlord doesn’t run afoul of fair housing laws. Stay educated on fair housing laws.