A Guide to Tenant Screening


Every property manager wants their property to be occupied. But, every property manager’s dream is to have their properties occupied with tenants that are reliable, pay their rent on time, and treat the rented space with respect and care. We know ideal tenants are hard to come by, but with this guide to tenant screening, you can make sure that you sort the good prospective tenants from the bad. Here’s a list of 5 things you should do when looking for a new renter!


1. Make a Checklist

The first step is to make a checklist of tenant non-negotiables. Do you have a minimum amount of time for the lease agreement? How many months of rent payments are you requiring upfront? These should be personalized to your standards. If you own multiple properties, some might need their own custom checklist. Are some buildings not pet-friendly, or is it an adults-only building? These extra custom lists come more into play with apartments or buildings with multiple occupants, but they are important to create before you look for renters.

2. Create a Pre-Screening Application

Since in-person meetings take up time and effort by yourself or your property managers, it’s a good idea to have a thorough pre-screening application for tenants to fill out beforehand. Now is a good time to request income information or a credit report to ensure that they will be able to meet rent payments. At HamiltonHomesforRent.com, our online application requires a photo ID and proof of income, but everyone does it slightly differently.

3. Request a Criminal Record Check

Requesting a criminal record check can help with that peace of mind for the owner and other tenants if there are multiple renters in one home. You have to be careful with this step though – permission for the police check must be requested first and you cannot refuse tenancy solely on this report alone. However, this extra step can ensure that the prospective tenant is not currently involved in criminal activity that can harm others and your property.

4. Collect References

Just like they do for new hires at a job, you want to look at what past employers have to say about this person. Ideally, your renter has had past landlords but if not, employment references also do the trick. Give these references a call or request a reference letter to get to know a little more about the prospective tenant. Again, this step helps to ensure you are choosing a responsible and trustworthy tenant to live in your property.

5. Meet in Person 

After they have passed all the previous steps in this guide, the last step is to meet in person for a viewing. While they browse the home, be sure to talk and get to know them a little more. Here are some example questions you can ask:

  • Do you have any pets?
  • Where are you moving from?
  • How long do you plan on staying in this area?

Talking in person will provide a good read on the type of tenant they will be, so be sure to ask questions to build rapport and make sure that everything they stated in the application is true.


With these 5 tenant screening steps, you can smooth this often overwhelming process – especially with loads of applications to sift through! Following this guide will decrease your tenancy turnover rates, save you time in the long run, and lead to lasting relationships with your tenants. Need help managing this process? That’s our speciality! Get in touch with us today!