When you receive a phone call from a prospective tenant, always pre-screen ahead of time this means to try and qualify the tenant over the phone before spending time going over to the house to show them. The easiest way to do this is by setting rental criteria and explaining that criteria over the phone. My criteria look like this:
- The gross monthly income must equal approximately three times or more the monthly rent
- Applicants must have a favorable credit history.
- Applicants must be employed and be able to furnish acceptable proof of the required income.
- Applicants must have good references concerning rental payment, housekeeping, and property maintenance from all previous Landlords.
- We limit the number of occupants to two per bedroom (per State law)
You can read this list over the phone to the prospective tenant and ask them if they meet these qualifications. If they don’t – don’t rent to them. These qualifications are designed to take the emotion out of renting to someone, so stick with them. By allowing tenants to move in who don’t meet your minimum qualifications, you are only setting yourself up for failure later on.
A note on discrimination: Be sure to not discriminate when you are advertising and screening for tenants. Federal law defines seven protected classes of people that you cannot discriminate against, which includes a person’s race, skin color, sex, national origin, religion, disability or familial status. You cannot even ask questions about these terms without appearing discriminatory – so don’t do it.