Finding and KEEPING Great Tenants
Gathering information is a key part of locating great tenants. You get the best access to information before the tenant signs the lease. Before the tenant signs the lease is the sweet spot because the tenant wants something from you, the keys!
The information you gather before signing the lease can really pay off, even years later, if there is a problem. Here is some advice from a veteran property manager.
1) do the maximum legal background check. In Seattle you can't check for criminal history and if you know about it, you can't exclude someone for having a criminal record, you are allowed to see if the prospect is on a sex offender registry.
2) Credit checks are great for figuring out other debts / payment obligations and any late pay history, these can be good entrees for beginning a discussion about a past foreclosure, job loss, divorce, etc...
3) Usually calling the prior landlords, not the current, is better for getting accurate information.
4) Verify photo ID, a WA State Driver's License and several pay stubs to verify income. It's also a good time to get emergency contact info. We have called tenants' moms before!
5) Make sure you understand Federal, State, and Local Fair Housing laws, you don't want to discriminate!