Category Archives for "Screen rental applicants"

Atlanta Property Management Background Checks

Computer and phone in process of screening rental applicants

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".

Black Front Door of rental property with Fall Leaves

Atlanta Rental 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.

Landlord Responsibilities for Decatur Owners

Orange For Rent Sign with White Letters representing Emory property management services

 

According to Georgia and Federal Law, if you own investment property near Emory University or in Decatur, certain responsibilities fall on your shoulders.

As long as you are not involved in a federal government housing program which have additional requirements,  here are some concerns you should consider:

  • You are required to inform your Decatur renters of the presence of lead based paint on your property.  Lead based paint was banned in 1978 so any newer home is unlikely to contain lead paint.
  • Fair Housing laws also require that you  avoid  discrimination of any kind in leasing your property – – race. color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability.
  • You should be aware that Military service personnel are allowed to break their lease if they are deployed.

Many townhome and condo communities in Dekalb County control how many units are allowed to be leased, and in some cases restrict all property owners from leasing their property if it is not owner occupied.  Local housing authorities may also have restrictions that could affect your rental property.  For example, they could restrict  how many unrelated adults may occupy a property, etc.

Local laws  require you to maintain your property in so that it is safe and habitable. Keeping yourDecatur property and the grounds in good repair is important to protect your investment.   This is what your tenants expect as well.

Screen your prospective tenants carefully by requiring credit, background and criminal checks.  Checking references and employment is also critical.  Once your tenants have occupied the property, they have the right to use, occupy and enjoy the premises in accordance with the terms of the Lease.  Except in case of emergency, this means you can’t just pop by without giving appropriate notice to your tenant.

Check with your local housing office or zoning office if you have specific questions.