As a landlord, finding the right tenants for your rental property is essential. Tenant screening is an art which entails making sure to thoroughly vet the potential tenant before agreeing to a rental agreement. It is critical that you accurately evaluate the prospective tenant’s ability to make their rental payments on time and treat your rental property with respect. Whether you are a seasoned landlord or a novice landlord, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the art of tenant screening.

What is Tenant Screening?

Tenant screening is the process of reviewing and evaluating potential tenants for your rental property. The goal of tenant screening is to ensure that the tenant is reliable and trustworthy, and is likely to pay their rental payments on time and take care of the property. Tenant screening is also important in verifying that a tenant can afford the rental payments as well.

Why Tenant Screening is Important

Tenant Screening is critical in ensuring that you are renting your property to a reliable, responsible tenant. It is important to stay ahead of tenants who may end up being evicted, skip payments, or worse, cause damage to the property. Tenant screening can save landlords a lot of money in the long run. Therefore, it is essential that you take the time and effort to properly screen your tenants.

Steps in the Tenant Screening Process

The tenant screening process varies from landlord to landlord, but generally consists of the following steps.

    • Collect potential tenant information
    • Run tenant background checks
    • Check references
    • Interview the potential tenant

1. Collect Potential Tenant Information

The first step in the tenant screening process is to collect information from the potential tenant. This typically includes their contact information, such as their name, address, phone number, and email address. Additionally, you may want to ask for a current proof of address, such as a driver’s license, or a utility bill.

2. Run Tenant Background Checks

The next step in the tenant screening process is to run background checks on the potential tenant. This is important in verifying the tenant’s past rental history, financial stability, criminal background, and any past evictions.

As a landlord, you should never use guilty until proven innocent during the tenant background check process.
Therefore, it is important to stick to what is allowed by the Fair Housing Act and not make any rental decisions based on the race, gender, religion, disability, or other characteristics protected by the law.

3. Check References

Once you have collected and verified the potential tenant’s information, the next step in the tenant screening process is to check their references. A potential tenant’s references can provide valuable insight into their character and reliability. Ask their references for their experience with the tenant and how likely they are to make their rental payments on time and treat your rental property with respect.

4. Interview the Potential Tenant

After you have collected all of the relevant information and checked the tenant’s references, the next step in the tenant screening process is to interview the tenant. A face-to-face meeting can be a great way to get a better feel for the potential tenant and their overall character. Additionally, this is also an opportunity for the potential tenant to ask you any questions they may have about the rental property or the rental agreement.

Tips for Successful Tenant Screening

    • Document everything: Make sure to keep all documents from the tenant screening process on file. This should include documents such as rental applications, background checks, and references.
    • Be consistent: Make sure to treat all potential tenants the same and follow the same tenant screening process for each individual.
    • Be fair and respect laws: Make sure to follow federal, state, and local laws when it comes to tenant screening. This includes the Fair Housing Act, as well as any other applicable laws.
    • Be thorough: Make sure to thoroughly review each potential tenant’s information and verify their references.
    • Do your research: Before renting out your property, make sure to familiarize yourself with any applicable laws and regulations.


The art of tenant screening is an important part of being a successful landlord. It is critical that landlords take the time to thoroughly evaluate and vet potential tenants, as this will help ensure that the tenant is reliable and trustworthy. Following the steps in this guide, landlords can help ensure that they make responsible rental decisions and avoid potential rental nightmares.

What type of information do landlords need to tenant screen?

Landlords typically need to collect information from prospective tenants including their full name, contact information, rental history, employment status, salary, references, and proof of identification. For more comprehensive screening, landlords may also need to collect credit history, a criminal background check, and bank statements.

Why is tenant screening important for landlords?

Tenant screening is important for landlords because it provides an opportunity for landlords to perform due diligence in evaluating potential tenants. It helps landlords to identify whether tenants may be a risk for not paying rent on time or taking care of the property. Tenant screening can also help landlords determine the reliability of a tenant as they may check references, employment history, criminal background, and credit score. All this helps to ensure that landlords are able to find and select the best possible tenant.

What kind of information is included in a tenant screening?

A tenant screening typically includes information related to an applicant’s credit report and history, rental or housing history, criminal background, income, and employment verification.

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