Why Tenant Screening Is Important

Ever since the first renter moved into the first rental property, landlords and their tenants have had disagreements. Whether they are in regard to the behavior of the tenant or the terms of the rental agreement, this struggle dates back to the earliest days of renters and rentals. From the thrown-together tenements of ancient Rome to the clapboard boarding houses of the old west and the apartment buildings of today, this problem has plagued landlords to no end. 

Whether you’ve been in the game for years or you’re just starting out, as a landlord, you’d do well to nip this problem in the bud before you’ve even had to deal with it. Even if you live in one of the best cities for landlords, now is the best time to start screening your tenants religiously. How is this, you ask? The answer is simple: vetting! 

Using a variety of tools designed for this very purpose, you can be sure your prospective tenants are going to be as trouble-free as possible before they even move in. Throughout the process of vetting and screening your tenants, you’ll be able to decide whether or not you want to deal with a given tenant over the long haul. 

So why is tenant screening so important, and what’s the best way to go about the processes without violating the privacy of your tenants? This is the topic we’ll be discussing today; with any luck, your questions will be answered, and you’ll leave with a much clearer idea of what screening is, why it’s important and how to do it. Let’s begin! 

What is tenant screening? 

Before we start in on the screening processes, we have to answer one question: what is screening, exactly? Well, in theory, screening is quite simple. Most landlords will have many prospective tenants to choose from when renting out a property; the process of screening is simply determining which of those tenants to grant residency to.

In practice, however, screening is a bit more complicated. There is a large number of eventualities that you’ll need to prepare for. Even if everything goes according to plan, you’re still going to need to know how to efficiently and effectively predict the behavior and characteristics of prospective tenants. 

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Why is tenant screening important? 

Now, you may still be wondering why the screening of prospective tenants is so important. If you’re a relatively new landlord and you don’t have a great deal of experience, you might not be able to see how crucial this step is when trying to find occupants for your rental. If you’re still unsure as to why tenant screening is so important, keep reading! 

Prospective tenant screening is essential for one simple reason: avoiding the difficulties associated with bad tenants. While there are ways to deal with a problematic renter, the easiest and best way is to avoid having them as a tenant in the first place. With thorough screening, you’ll be able to circumvent this problem entirely.  

importance of tenant screening

How to screen your tenants

If you’re onboard with the idea of screening your prospective tenants, congratulations: you’re already one step closer to having an easy and carefree life as a landlord. However, you might still be a bit unclear as to what exactly the process of screening your tenants entails and how you can most effectively conduct your screening without violating the privacy of your tenants. 

In this section, we’ll be giving you a brief overview of what you’ll need to do to avoid taking a bad tenant on as a renter. The steps given here aren’t an exhaustive guide; instead, they’re just a collection of helpful tips that will provide you with a good idea of where you should start the process of screening your tenants. Let’s begin! 

Look up every applicant

Before you invite a tenant to see the rental property, you should know as much as possible about them. Ask them for a photo of their driver’s license or ID, and then do some digging. Look up their credit history, their tax payments, and any other information on the public record. Don’t take things too far; just get a general idea of their financial past. 

It’s also acceptable to ask for references from previous landlords, so you know of anything that might not show up on the public record. A reference from one or two of their old landlords will go a long way towards ensuring that they are the people they claim to be and aren’t hiding any headache-inducing personal characteristics or traits. 

Schedule interviews

Once you’ve got a good idea of how your prospective tenants have fared in the past and weeded out any problematic entrants, it’s time to start scheduling interviews. Find a time that works for both you and the prospective tenant, and have them come by to see the apartment and have a friendly conversation. 

During this interview, you can ask them reasonable questions regarding their past and their present: where they work, what their financial situation is, and whether or not they’re willing to comply with the terms of your rental agreement. This shouldn’t take long, nor should it be unpleasant. It’s just a conversation, after all! 

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Talk shop 

After you’ve talked to a few potential tenants in person, there’s a good chance you know which you’re going to choose. You’ve weeded out any problematic prospective tenants, and all that remain are upstanding, unassuming individuals. If you’ve done everything correctly, you’ll have found the model tenant or tenants. 

Now it’s time to start talking rental agreements and rent. You may need to negotiate your terms, provided they don’t demand anything unreasonable. Once you’ve landed on a list of terms that you’re both happy with, all that’s left to do is sign the rental agreement and usher in a happy and uncomplicated tenancy!


The life of a landlord is rarely uneventful. Unforeseen eventualities are bound to happen, no matter how rigorously you vet your tenants. Nevertheless, by implementing a judicious screening process, you can forego the bulk of these eventualities in one fell swoop. Whether you’re new to the landlord game or you’re just starting out, tenant screening is a must!

If you’re looking for advice from someone with a bit more experience on how to adequately screen your tenants, why not find a real estate agent in your area and have a quick chat over a coffee? Real estate agents also have to screen their clients, and they’ll no doubt have some invaluable advice to help in your situation. We wish you luck with your tenant screening process! 

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