It's okay to be a little suspicious of new tenants.

If you’re a landlord, you know that in order to succeed at your job, you have to wear many different hats. Though renters may think of you as a modern day land barons who does nothing more than sit back and collect rent checks, you know that the truth is very far from that. In fact, there are usually a hundred different things on a landlord’s To Do List on any given day. Whether it’s dealing with contractors, making minor fixes yourself or even hiring and managing property managers, the job is certainly no cake walk. But even though the extra step of running background checks and credit screens on your potential tenants may seem like just another straw on your weakening camel’s back, the truth is that there is no doubt that screening your tenants will save you time, energy and potentially a whole lot of money in the long run. Here are five good reasons to never forget to screen your tenants:

1. Make Sure They’ll Pay Rent On Time & In Full
I don’t know anything about you (except for that you have great taste in blogs!) but I feel confident in saying that you didn’t become a landlord for your health. In all likelihood, you thought that owning rental property was a smart investment and hoped that in the end it would pay off. All of this is to say that your number one concern with new tenants, as a landlord, is that they pay their rent. Running a credit check on potential tenants, although not foolproof, is a good way to find out if an applicant for your vacancy has a history of not paying back money they owe. A credit check is the simplest screening tool and will tell you about accounts that have gone into collections, late payments and other debts. A tenant with a clean credit check is much more likely to pay the rent on time every month which will save you the hassle of having to threaten eviction or even go through with the eviction process.

2. Make Sure They’ll Keep Paying Rent
Even a tenant with a clean credit check is not a great bet if they don’t have a job or some proven way to continue paying their rent each month. Running a check of your tenant’s employment history and verifying their current employment is key to making sure you get your check each month. Many landlords require a recent pay stub as well as a phone call to the current employer to verify their tenant’s position and salary. This is another good way to protect your property investment financially and avoid chasing tenants for the rent. A gainfully employed tenant is much more likely to be a good and reliable tenant.

3. Make Sure They’re the Right Fit
Getting rent on time every month is certainly a main concern, but it’s not the only thing to consider when you’re looking for tenants. You also want to make sure that your new tenants will fit in with the personality of your building. A good way to find this out is to screen their rental history and talk to past landlords about the kind of tenant they were. For instance, if you have a generally quiet property, you may not want someone with a history of throwing loud parties. The reverse is also true: if your property is laid back and home to many noisy people that live in harmony, your tenant may not be happy if they are a quieter and more solitary person.

4. Keep Your Property Safe
Of course, your obligation when it comes to tenant screening is not just to your new tenants, but also to your existing tenants and even to yourself and your property. This is why it’s important to run a criminal background check on all potential tenants. You will want to know if this person has a history of any violent crimes or crimes against property that will put you or your tenants at risk. An unsatisfactory criminal background is a perfectly legitimate reason to refuse to rent to an applicant. You have the right to keep yourself and your tenants safe.

5. Limit Your Legal Liabilities
Finally, running a thorough background check may actually limit your legal liability should anything go awry with the new tenant. You should always consult an experienced legal professional for advice when it comes legal issues (this blog is not a legal professional!) but if, for instance, a new tenant commits a crime against a current tenant and you did not run a thorough background check that would have shown criminal tendencies, then you may be civilly if not criminally liable. Yet another reason to spend the little bit of time and energy that it takes to run background checks on your tenants before signing a lease.

Obviously there are a number of good reasons to screen your tenants before renting to them. The good news is that with an online rental application service like Rocket Lease, the screening process is even easier. We already have your tenants’ information and an whole system in place to run checks on them as soon as you give the go ahead. The best part is that the cost is included in the application fee charged to the applicant, so it costs you nothing. Sign up for Rocket Lease today and let our screening services save you time and money on your very next rental.