Conducting proper tenant screening is one of the most important responsibilities for Chicago landlords. Choosing reliable, trustworthy tenants can help minimize headaches and ensure you receive rent payments on time. On the other hand, lax screening procedures can lead to non-paying tenants, excessive property damage, and legal issues. Here are some tips for effective tenant screening in Chicago:
Check tenant references. Require prospective tenants to provide references from their current and previous landlords. Call the references to verify the information and ask about the tenant’s payment history, property care, and likelihood to renew a lease.
Run a credit and background check. Review the tenant’s credit report and criminal background check. Look for a credit score of at least 600, a history of on-time payments, and a lack of bankruptcies or evictions. For background checks, look for no violent felonies or drug-related offenses in the past 7 years.
Review income and employment. Make sure prospective tenants have a verifiable source of income that is at least 3 times the monthly rent. Ask for pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, or other documentation to confirm their income. Also verify their employment by calling their employer.
Check for previous evictions. Search court records to see if the tenant has been evicted in the past. Multiple previous evictions can be a red flag, even if other screening criteria are met. Evicted tenants often have trouble paying rent on time and following lease terms.
Meet tenants in person. Sit down for an interview with prospective tenants to get a sense of their character and reliability. Have a list of questions prepared ahead of time. Look for tenants who seem responsible, communicative, and genuinely interested in your property. Trust your instincts.
Review the rental application. Require all prospective tenants to fill out a detailed rental application. Look for applications that are fully and honestly completed. Inconsistencies or omitted information on the application can indicate that the tenant may not be fully trustworthy or may be trying to hide something.
Conducting a thorough tenant screening process in Chicago is the best way for landlords to find good, long-term tenants. While it requires an upfront investment of time, effective screening can help avoid much bigger headaches down the road. Please let us know if you have any other questions!
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