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Quick Guide to Effective Tenant Screening in Phoenix

Dora Pinter

While it may appear that you are saving time when you skip tenant screening, in the long run, this is not advisable. Screening the renters in your Phoenix rental home is critical if you want fewer problems and more protection for your rental. This is the stage where you assess if the applicant is suitable as a tenant.

It is important to know which tenants are right for your Phoenix rental home. You want an occupant that pays the rent on time and reasonably maintains your unit.

In general, top-caliber tenants have these qualities:

  • Fully capable of paying the rent each month
  • Employed in a stable job or has a solid source of income
  • Has a good rent payment history
  • No existing criminal record 
  • Diligent and responsible as tenants

Screening Tenants

After your property ad brings in potential tenants, before performing the tenant screening, it helps to have a list of criteria that are non-negotiables for your prospective tenants. This makes it a breeze to complete the process. You are also reassured that the selection is tailored according to your requirements.

Landlords can also do an initial pre-screening to save more time. They can do a preliminary interview before scheduling a property showing of their Phoenix rental home. This lets you know if a renter is a good candidate before dedicating massive effort to running a tenant screening.

Rental Application Review 

Your rental application should be complete and allow potential tenants in your Phoenix rental home to provide all the necessary information, such as:

person signing a lease

  • Where they are currently living 
  • The name and contact information of their present landlord
  • Prior residence information, including contact details of former landlords
  • Current and prior employer/s
  • Job title, salary, and length of employment
  • References with contact information
  • Authorization for credit and background check

It is essential to learn the income level of prospective renters so you can assess if they can meet the rent payment each month. Usually, landlords require renters to have monthly earnings triple the rent rate. 

But the final decision still rests on you since a renter may not be burdened by an existing debt and can fully pay the monthly rent even if they earn below the required income.

When you have finished the application review, you can start contacting the references to perform credit and rent history checking.

Tenant Income and Employment Verification

It is crucial to look at the employment information of the applicant to gauge the accuracy of the reported earnings. References can provide a range of the pay the employee receives. Be cautious in this stage since some renters lie when it comes to their income to pass the evaluation. 

They may even seek assistance from their friends or family to act as previous landlords. You can try asking about an available unit from their former landlords before inquiring about the prospective tenant’s rent history.

two people having an interview in an office space

For employer verification, it is best to consult the company’s policy first and find out if there is an available email address or phone number to contact for employment verification.

Critical Questions to Ask Present and Previous Landlords

As their potential landlord, you need to find the truth about why a renter is changing residences. This information can be revealed by the existing and former landlords. You may want to weigh a current landlord’s statements though since they might have other motives for not revealing the real reason. 

On the other hand, former landlords are bound to be more open with the reasons and can provide extra information if the potential tenant was prompt in paying the rent, left damage to the rental unit, or caused a disturbance in the property and was reported.

Important Questions to Ask Employers

To be aware if a renter that is applying to live in your Phoenix rental home has the capacity to pay the rent, you must verify from the employer the following information:

  • How long is the renter employed?
  • What is the job role of the renter?
  • What is the pay range of the renter?
  • What is the degree of responsibility the renter has as an employee?

It is important to manage your expectations though since some employers limit disclosing a lot of details and will stick to telling you the potential tenant’s employment status and length of employment only. 

two women smiling at each other in an office space

A good alternative if you only got limited information from the applicant’s employer is to look at the credit report. This paints a picture of the renter’s financial health.

Doing an extensive tenant screening for your Phoenix property helps you to evaluate whether a renter can really pay the rent dues regularly. If you encounter fake references, you can reject the rental application.

Tenant Credit Reports and Background Check Analysis

When conducting a background check of a prospective renter, it is important to find out their credit score, eviction and criminal record, and full rent history. Do not forget to also verify their social security number and run a check on the National sex offender list for safety.

A good credit score is 680 or more but you can still consider other key points, such as a renter without an outstanding debt and a clean record when it comes to evictions and criminal reports.

Accepting or Denying a Prospect’s Application

Once you complete the tenant screening process, it is time to decide whether to accept or reject a renter’s application. You can choose to inform them by calling or emailing. Remember to provide information for the next phase, the lease signing.

Even if you reject a renter’s application, it is good practice to write or send them an email for proof. The reason can be undisclosed unless a renter specifically asks for it. 

Your reason should be valid and must adhere to the Fair Housing laws. Denying a prospective renter’s application due to a low credit score or insufficient income is legally acceptable.

Bottom Line

You are exposed to a lot of risks as a rental homeowner. A great way to limit them is by performing a thorough tenant screening. It lets you filter problematic renters that can be costly for your Phoenix rental business.

Get in touch with our team at Service Star Realty today and see how we can help you make your rental property a success!

Service Star Realty

2929 East Camelback Road #119, Phoenix, AZ 85016

(480) 426-9696

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