Visiting the Home of Prospective Tenants
In today’s world where most people have perfected the art of deception and wear many masks you won’t know whom you are dealing with until you interview and thoroughly screen them. It is no less so when you are leasing out your property. Therefore, every landlord should diligently review applications for tenancy in their property, weed out applicants whom he suspects may be up to no good, and only select those prospective tenants he’ll have no problem with. For each landlord, the selection process is one of the most critical actions you can take as regarding your property.
If you choose a good tenant you will in almost all cases get rent on time each month; the neighbors will be at peace with you; and, most importantly, the property will be kept in pink throughout. Conversely, if you select the wrong tenant, then things may not be so easy for you.
Therefore, you should diligently strive to find a good tenant with whom you can forge a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship without unnecessary strife and wrangles. That implies you will need to say no to very many applications.
However, you should always be careful not to violate the many housing laws that govern this area. For example, the Federal Fair Housing Law provides that landlords should not discriminate against any person based on sex, religion, race, national origin, familial status, color, or handicap. Therefore, it is imperative that you make the decision on whether to rent or not to rent in a lawful, objective manner.
One of the lawful, objective ways to decide if a prospective tenant is suitable or not is to visit that potential tenant’s current residence.
Visiting the prospective tenant’s current address will give you an idea of how they live. You can be able to see how messy or neat they are. From the visit, you can be able to deduce if they can take care of your property or they will help your rental unit get dilapidated. The last thing you want as a landlord is a tenant who will leave your property in a sordid, squalid state; and you can avert that at the selection stage by keeping out those tenants who are not responsible enough.
Again, visiting the prospective tenant’s current residence will give you a clue of their eccentrics and peculiar habits, thus, you can decide early on if you can tolerate those habits or not. For example, there are landlords who cannot tolerate smokers- especially if the person smokes indoors.
Do you allow tenants to keep their pets on your property? Depending on if you allow tenants to keep pets on your property or not, the visit to the tenant’s current residence will reveal if they keep pets or not. And if they keep pets, what kind of pet, and how they take care of it. Admittedly, the visit will be brief and you might not be able to glean all the important details but, at least, it will provide you with some glimpses of who they are, if they are responsible or not, if you can get along or not.
It should be remembered, though, that a visit to the tenant’s current residence may not be so effective and may not portray the most accurate picture of who your future landlord really is. That is because the tenant may decide to spruce up his home, turn it spick and span, and prepare everything to impress you on your visit because they really want you to lease them your property. However, if you are keen, there could be some telltale signs that the house was kempt in a hurry to just impress you so you can sign the lease agreement.
While doing this, always remember not to be discriminative. You might land on the wrong side of the law if you are applying the visit policy discriminatorily against certain renters. However, it is perfectly legal to want to visit, or to visit your prospective tenant’s current address. The prospective tenant, if scandalized by the request for a visit, is free to decline; and you, as the landlord, are free to refuse to rent out the apartment or rental unit to them. Keep in mind that serious tenants wish to make a very good impression. Therefore, if the tenant is uncooperative, then it means that he might not be the right fit for your rental unit.