It’s understandable; landlords want to keep rental units full so that the cash keeps coming in. However, DIY tenant screening and taking shortcuts to turn around rental units quickly could come with a high cost. Doing so could in fact create more problems to deal with in the future if a professional tenant screening solution isn’t used.
The following are some of the ways a do-it-yourself approach or DIY tenant screening could be problematic and risky:
The Lack of a Standard Screening Procedure for All Tenants
If the same questions aren’t being asked of everyone using the same criteria for qualifying them, a landlord could be in violation of fair housing laws. It is crucial to treat every potential tenant the same way during the screening process. By using the same questions, landlords can more easily compare responses to discover who is the best fit for each particular unit.
Not Effectively Pre-Qualifying Potential Renters
If a lot of time is spent showing rental units to people who end up not qualified, this means these candidates aren’t being weeded out during the initial correspondence. Asking the right questions can help to ensure landlords find out early out who is qualified and who is not. Focused, targeted questions are key; however, bear in mind that tenants can still give answers that are not truthful. Pre-qualification is very important, but ultimately the use of professional screening is best to verify key answers.
With DIY Tenant Screening You May Be Asking Improper, Inappropriate or Illegal Questions
If a potential tenant asks if there is an elevator up to the second floor unit that is being rented, landlords must be careful about inquiring as to the reasons why. If the person has a disability, they may not be disqualified from renting purely for this reason. If children are heard playing in the background during an initial phone call, asking how many children the candidate has and disqualifying them on this basis could put a landlord in legal hot water. Even seemingly casual questions about cultural background, criminal history or financial past could be violating applicants’ rights.
A strong advantage of using a professional screening service is their awareness of the questions that cannot legally be asked during the screening process. With DIY tenant screening it is easy to make landlord mistakes and ask the wrong questions, especially if a standard, vetted screening process is not in place for all prospects.
Using a professional screening service can help take the guesswork out of tenant screening. While the DIY tenant screening approach may work for surface level matters, it’s always safer to partner with a professional who is experienced in tenant background screening.