I want to start by saying, screening is critical. If you are afraid, that will hinder you from doing a great job. If you are cutting corners or are slack on your process or do not have a process, you are playing a dangerous game.
A game that could risk the personal safety and wellbeing of you, your family and other tenants in a property.
I have even heard some landlords and property managers tell me how they are not comfortable asking for personal information or calling references.
They are letting fear prevent them from doing their job.
I would argue that if I were to apply to rent an apartment and the screening process was really slack, I would walk away.
I would be nervous about what kind of people were in the building.
Here is a personal story that happened to me and what I had to deal with:
I was in my twenties (so it was over 20 years ago, when this happened). I had been living with roommates, and I wanted to live on my own.
I searched for the cheapest, halfway clean rental that was not in a dangerous area. I found a bachelor aparment for $400 per month, heat and hotwater included and they took cash.
It was an 11 unit building. I met the superintendant (who was approximately my age)
I filled out an application on the spot (which asked for very limited information).
One hour later I was accepted. I thought great, and moved in right away.
The first week I was there I had to make a noise complaint. The interesting part, is that it was to the superintendant. He liked to party all night and play loud music.
It turns out, it was something I had to learn to live with. I also noticed there was often police cars in the yard of the apartment building and cops talking to various tenants.
One night I went to do laundry in the shared laundry room. There was a notice on the door. It read something to the effect of stay with your clothes, because someone was stealing clothes from the washers and dryers.
I felt creeped out by this situation and put in my notice to quit. Fortunately I was on a month to month lease, so I only had to give 30 days notice.
I moved out, cleaned my apartment to a standard way higher then when I moved in, and tried to get in touch with the superintendant.
I knocked on his door and called him. He did not respond.
I located the phone number of the owner of the property. That is when I found out, the superintendant had left, and told the owner I had shorted my last months rent in the amount of the damage deposit.
I explained my side of the story and the owner (landlord) went into a rant about all the tenants, superintedants and maintenance people that have ripped her off since she owned the building.
Once she ended the rant, she agreed to pay me my damage deposit.
I thanked her, and met up a couple of days later to give her the keys and collect my money.
I wish I had known then what I know now about tenant screening. If I did, I would have never rented the apartment.
Previous to this experience, my landlord was a large company, so they did a proper screening and I questioned why they needed so much information.
I now know why.
What went wrong?
I was not into rental properties at that point in my life, but now twenty some years later, I realize, what some of her challenges may have been.
The obvious problems are as follows:
She did not invest in hiring a great property manager.
She did not invest in a process to hire a great superintendent.
The screening process barely existed.
The lease was a verbal agreement.
She did not keep tight control on all collected money.
She did not have systems in place to address issues of security in the building, which means her good tenants were moving out, and bad tenants were the only ones staying.
It would appear that owning this building was out of her comfort zone. Was it fear? Maybe, Was it laziness? Maybe, Was it she did not want to spend any money to have the building managed properly? It is possible or maybe she just did not know, what she did not know.
I am not sure what her particular reasons were. I do know that if she would have invested in a proper screening process and property management company, she could have saved a lot of personal stress and money in the long term. Click here to get educated
I have heard many stories similar to mine from both a tenant and landlord point of view.
If you need help with a tenant screening process, make sure to check out some of my posts about our 4 – pillar process.
Also, I go into detail about tenant screening in my book:
Thank you for reading,
do not be afraid, you are not alone.