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Emory Decatur Property Management always recommends that prospective tenants be thoroughly screened through credit, criminal and prior landlord reference checks.
It's easier to prevent a potential problem from occurring when considering a new tenant than it is to try to evict them later. Because property managers represent investors who trust them to obtain qualified tenants for their properties, extreme care must be utilized during the screening process.
Screening begins with an Application completed by the applicant, giving written permission to obtain a credit report, criminal background, and former landlord reference information. Here are a few good policies to follow when dealing with applicants:
- Never accept a credit report provided by an applicant, as some credit reports have been sucessfully altered
- Always check Landlord References, two references are better than one
While many applicants look promising on paper, a thorough check might show previous late rent payments, bad credit, eviction proceedings, or criminal activity. It's important to evaluate every aspect of the appliant's ability to pay the rent and to be a viable tenant, without violating any provision of the Fair Housing Act.
In fact, a recent U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidance policy recommends exercising caution when considering criminal history for prospective applicants. According to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) publication, the guidance suggests "housing providers should create thoughtful policies and practices that are tailored to serve a substantial, legitimate and nondiscrimatory interest of the housing provider, such as resident safety and the protection of property".
Careful review of the prospective tenant's credit, ability to pay, criminal history, and past landlord references should be made in every case.
With appropriate due diligence during the screening process, the ultimate goal will be achieved - a new tenant who pays their rent on time and maintains the property.