How to Screen a Good Tenant

Whether you're a DIY landlord or you leave it up to your property management company, finding good tenants can be worth its weight in gold.

Nothing can be more stressful than constantly worrying about what is going on at your property while you are away or on vacation.  While your property management company can help alleviate some of the challenges, having peace of mind by having good tenants is a must with your most prized asset.

With the right tenant screening processes in place, landlords can increase the chances of getting a great long-term tenant.  We list out a few tips to help you with this process.

Submit a Rental Application

The first step is to ensure you have a rental application in place.  A good application will include questions about their rental history, employment and financial situation.  For example

  • General information (name, phone, email)
  • Rental history (current landlord, reason for leaving, landlord contact number)
  • Employment information (company, position, salary and length of employment)
  • Pets (yes/no)
  • Smoking (yes/no)
  • Any additional income (income assistance)
  • References (ideally 2 or more past landlords and personal references)

Have an initial conversation over the phone

Just as you would with any job applicant, asking the right questions over the phone even before showing the property makes a lot of sense and can save you hours of your day showing to the wrong candidates.  Here are some suggested questions

  • How many people will be living with you
  • Do you plan on having pets in the suite?
  • How many bedrooms are you looking for
  • When do you need to move in by?
  • Ask follow up questions from the application form. For example, if they listed they were at their current job for only 2 months, ask them who their previous employer was and get a reference

Look for red flags

If the potential tenant is in a hurry to get a place, you may want to ask why they are in a rush.  Have them tell their story and ask follow up questions to see if you can uncover any red flags.  A good tenant will often start searching months or several weeks in advance.

In addition, one of the best tools in the digital age is to search on social media.  Depending on user settings on platforms such as Facebook, or public profiles on Instagram, you can glean some information about them by just browsing their public information.

When you follow up with the past landlord reference ask about their payment history and see if there were any gaps in payment.  Ask the address of the property they managed and cross reference with the application.

Final Checks

Once you've narrowed down some potential tenants, it's time to run a few key checks.  While there are multiple services available, it is best to get quotes from a few service providers.

There are two key checks to order.  One is the credit check, and another is the tenant check. 

The credit check is the same as the bank would run before loaning someone money.  However, even if the credit check is not perfect, it doesn't automatically mean they will be a bad tenant.  This is where the tenant check comes to play.

The tenant check will show whether the potential tenant has been evicted for example.

Here is an example of a service provider.  (Note: Noble & Associates Property Management is not affiliated with this provider nor recommending, it is just an example service provider).

While looking for a good tenant can be time consuming, the extra steps taken can go a long way to securing a great long-term tenant.  The upfront effort it takes to find a tenant far outweighs the effort of having to tend to a bad one.

If you need additional information about screening for a good tenant, email us at