How to find great tenants in Santa Clara & Alameda County – it’s a concern for almost everyone in the landlording business. For without good tenants, the whole thing can be a huge headache and a major hassle, often including huge profit-eating expenses for repairs, evictions, and vacancies. But with a little due diligence, you can significantly increase your chances of finding great tenants. Here’s what you can do.
Run a Background Check
Always run a background because . . . well, because people are often less than truthful. Criminal history is public record and accessible at courthouses and on various databases. Using a prospective tenant’s name and birth date – and do make sure to see a valid ID – you can access records that will turn up both minor and serious offenses. A thorough background check should include state criminal records, county criminal court records, federal court records, DOC lists, and the sexual offender database.
Bear in mind, though, that in many states discriminating against tenants guilty of non-violent and non-drug-related crimes is prohibited. In addition, a thorough background can be immensely time-consuming, so it may both easier and cheaper to hire a reputable tenant-screening agency to do the job.
Verify Employment and Payment History
After the background check, the next most important step of how to find great tenants in Santa Clara & Alameda County is verifying employment and income, as well as payment history. Again, you can’t just take a prospective tenant’s word for it.
What you’re looking for is steady employment, preferably long-term, with no major inexplicable gaps in the work history and a record of good attendance. Concerning income, a good rule of thumb is that a tenant’s monthly income should be at least three times the amount of monthly rent. You will need to contact employees and see copies of pay stubs.
You also want a tenant who is likely to pay on time and who is responsible. If she has a history of paying bills on time – rent, utilities, credit cards, student loans, and so on – that’s a very good sign. Verifying this will require a credit check.
Examine Rental History
Of course, this wouldn’t apply to first-time renters like people fresh out of college, but for the rest, a solid rental history can be a fairly reliable indicator of a good tenant. You can contact current and former landlords to get this information. Just keep in mind that a current landlord may not entirely truthful if he wants to get the tenant out and off his hands.
Here are some of the important questions you’ll need to ask. Did the tenant pay rent on time? Has she ever been evicted? Did she give notice before moving? Did she keep the apartment/house clean and undamaged? Did she abide by all the rules, especially concerning pets and noise?
The more occupants you have in your rental property, the more wear and likelihood of abuse you’ll have chipping away at your investment profits. So the standard rule for preventing such problems is to limit occupancy to a maximum of two people per bedroom. You will, of course, have to comply with local regulations and codes, but fewer people is better. You can’t, for example, refuse to rent a one-bedroom unit to two adults and an infant, but you usually can refuse to rent it to two adults and a teenaged child.
Renting is always a gamble because you’re dealing with human beings and all the unpredictability that involves. Being forearmed, however, with knowledge of how to find great tenants in Santa Clara & Alameda County can go a long way toward making the landlording experience both more pleasant and more profitable.