Becoming a Landlord 101: Screening Tenants

Screening Tenants

As a landlord, the process of finding a good tenant is fairly simple. It’s important to screen prospective tenants thoroughly and thoughtfully, however, in order to avoid headaches during the tenancy and after.

When it comes to background checks on tenants, you have some options. You can perform a limited check yourself by seeking out available court records. These are available online for free in Wisconsin and Minnesota. These records will allow you to see if the prospective tenant has any outstanding judgments that would indicate the tenant may have trouble paying. Also included will be any evictions the prospective tenant may have on record. If you choose not to do this research yourself, there are services that will perform these searches for a fee.

Another information source is to contact references. I have heard of numerous problems stemming from a landlord not calling references. Taking the time to call them before taking on a renter is another way to prevent problems that from arising later on. You may get a sense of potential payment issues or other causes for concern.

There are a number of laws that govern tenant screening. From the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to Fair Housing Laws, to anti-discrimination laws, there are many traps for the unwary. Make sure your policies and procedures are in compliance with all the rules and regulations that govern your area. And as always, if you have further questions about these issues, give us a call!

Attorney Andrew W.R. Nielsen