Importance of a written tenant screening document

One of the most important aspects of a property manager's job is the tenant screening process. Proper tenant screening can avert several problems along the way, including having to kick out a tenant, performing repairs to damaged property, receiving complaints and protests from other renters. Nevertheless, tenant screening ought to comply with both federal and state decree. Property managers who screen potential tenants on the basis of barred criteria may be face a discrimination lawsuit. So how can property managers protect themselves from poor renters and discrimination claims at the same time?

Use a written tenant screening document

First, it simplifies the screening process as far as property managers as concerned. Any tenant who does not meet the criteria indicated on the written checklist is avoided completely. Second, it minimizes the possibility of a discrimination lawsuit arising since it takes out any personal opinions that the property manager might have regarding potential renters.

Characteristics of good written screening documents

Legal compliance: All the criteria indicated in the written checklist follows federal, state and local regulations in relation to fair housing among other requirements.

Objective: All the criteria are assessable and verifiable. They aren't dependent on the personal views of the property manager. For example, objective criteria takes account of whether the applicant's former landlord would lease them again, reasons why the applicant left their former house, and whether their gross monthly salary is at least 3 times the rental amount.

Clear and simple language: Using confusing and complex jargon benefits no one. Instead, the written checklist should be in simple language to allow the applicant to understand precisely what details are required and what standards ought to be met before an application can be approved.  

Put in place early in advance: The written screening document should be in place prior to accepting applications. If this isn't possible probably because you have been letting for several years and you're only now implementing written checklist for tenant screening, contact a lawyer who is experienced in landlord-tenant law to help you through the right way to begin using your printed screening criteria.

The absence of a written tenant screening checklist may result in many tussles over the denial of a rental application between property managers and potential tenants leading to discriminator claims from the applicants. Property managers can steer clear of such needless tussles by creating clear, printed screening stipulations and adhering to them always.

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