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Tenant screening tips for Toledo rental application process.

If you’re a landlord, you know how one bad tenant can wreak havoc on your rental property investment. We’ve seen it happen far too often – missed payments, thousands in damages, eviction nightmares – not exactly how you want to spend your hard-earned profits.

So, how can you avoid renting to unreliable tenants? It comes down to rolling up your sleeves and doing your homework on applicants. Screening each person who wants to rent your place can feel complex and tiring, especially if you’re a new rental property owner. However, finding reliable tenants is well worth it if you want a successful investment experience.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps every Toledo landlord should take for an effective tenant selection in Toledo to avoid unreliable prospective applicants, and find tenants you can count on. From meeting them in person, to checking references for criminal background checks to reviewing credit history, we’ll share practical tips to help identify responsible renters. People who will pay on time, follow your rules, and care for your property like it’s their own.

Why Finding Reliable Tenants in Toledo is Crucial to Your Investment Success

As a Toledo landlord, finding responsible, long-term tenants is absolutely essential if you want your rental property to be successful and profitable. Reliable tenants not only pay their rent consistently and on time every month, but they also take care of your property, saving you money on maintenance, repairs, and turnover costs.

So, why are reliable tenants so critical for your bottom line? Because they:

  • Pay rent on time, every month. This steady cash flow is the lifeblood of your returns.
  • Keep your investment in good shape, which saves you big time on maintenance and repairs.
  • Stick around long-term and renew their lease; you want tenants who view your house as their home. This keeps lower vacancy rates in between tenants. Empty units kill your profits quick in Toledo’s competitive rental market.
  • Take care of the property like it’s their own. This helps preserve and even increase the value of your asset over the long haul.
  • Follow the rules and communicate with you. No endless headaches dealing with lease violations or property damage.

Do yourself a favor – take the time upfront to screen applicants thoroughly. It’s 100% worth the effort to find reliable tenants who’ll treat your rental property like their home. They’re out there – so let’s make sure your next tenants are ones you can count on.

Tenant Screening Tips for Toledo Investment Property

Tenant Screening Tips for Toledo Investment Property

Thoroughly screening potential tenants is one of the most valuable things Toledo property owners with multiple rental properties can do to protect their investments. While it takes time upfront, tenant screening allows you to filter out potentially problematic renters and avoid major headaches down the road.

Follow these tenant screening tips in Toledo to identify responsible, reliable tenants who will care for your property, pay rent on time, follow lease terms, and contribute to your real estate investment success.

Meet In Person at the Rental Property

Here’s a big tip for Toledo landlords: Never rent to someone you haven’t met face to face.

Online applications are tempting – quick and easy – and virtual tours have made it seem like you can find tenants from the comfort of your computer. But these tenants often end up being scams or bad fits.

Instead, meet every prospective tenant at the property before accepting any application. Walking through together lets you see how they behave, ask questions, and form a personal connection. During the inspection, get a feel for their attitude, lifestyle, and how serious they are about your property.

It also gives them a chance to view features, ask questions, and see if the rental fits their needs. Have a friendly conversation during the tour, too. Get to know them a bit without crossing any legal boundaries.

While you can ask questions, it’s essential you follow Fair Housing Act, which probits discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  •  National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Familial Status
  • Disability

So remember: On-site meetings first before accepting an application and agreeing to a lease. It takes a bit more effort but avoids major issues down the road. Taking this one simple step will put you ahead of other Toledo landlords.

Start With a Professional Application

The rental application process in Toledo starts with prospective tenants completing an application. Ensure you use a professional form that follows legal requirements and is comprehensive enough to gather all necessary information while following The Fair Housing Act. Make sure your application strictly adheres to all guidelines, avoiding any questions that could be construed as discriminatory.

Your application form should include sections for personal information, employment history, income verification, rental history, references, and consent for background and credit checks. Make sure to include a statement where the applicant acknowledges the accuracy of the information provided and consents to income verification and other background checks.

Additionally, clearly communicate the criteria you will use to evaluate the application, including income requirements (typically, rent should not exceed a certain percentage of the applicant’s monthly income), credit score minimums, and rental history standards. This transparency helps set expectations and can reduce the likelihood of disputes or misunderstandings later in the process.

Verify Income

A prospective tenant’s gross monthly income should be at least three times the rental amount to indicate that they can afford the property. Do not accept the applicant’s word for how much they earn. It’s crucial that you verify their income and employment stability.

Here are some ways you can verify income:

  1. Request Pay Stubs: Ask for the last two to three months of pay stubs, which will show the applicant’s earnings and consistency of income over that period.
  2. Obtain W-2 Forms and Tax Returns: For a more comprehensive view of an individual’s annual income, request the most recent W-2 forms and tax returns. This is especially useful for verifying the income of self-employed individuals or those with variable income.
  3. Employment Verification Letter: Request a letter from the applicant’s employer that confirms their employment status, salary, and the likelihood of continued employment.
  4. Bank Statements: Reviewing bank statements can provide insights into an applicant’s financial stability and income consistency. Look for regular income deposits and overall account health. Bank statements can be especially helpful if you are working with a self-employed individual.
Effective tenant selection  in Toledo

Call References and Make Sure They Are Real

Calling an applicant’s references is a critical tenant screening step many new property owners in Toledo skip. But having detailed conversations with references provides invaluable insights you can’t get anywhere else.

When reviewing a rental application, make sure to thoroughly verify the contact information provided for references. Call the numbers and emails listed to ensure they are legitimate and reach an actual person who knows the applicant. Beware of fake references — friends and relatives that the applicant tries to pass off as previous landlords or employers.

Once you have a real reference on the phone, have a genuine conversation to assess the applicant’s character. Ask questions like:

  • How do you know the applicant?
  • What is your relationship?
  • How would you describe their personality and behavior?
  • Are they responsible with payments and obligations?
  • Were there ever any issues when you lived or worked together?
  • Would you rent to or work with this person again?

Listen closely and gauge whether the reference seems honest and forthcoming. Prompt them to provide real examples or stories that reveal the applicant’s true colors. Valid, detailed references are invaluable. Don’t skip this step – speaking directly with real references is one of the wisest things Toledo landlords can do.

Credit Check

Running a credit check is one of the key tenant screening steps that provides an objective overview of the applicant’s financial responsibility. If they consent, you can obtain a credit report directly. Alternatively, ask the prospective tenant to provide you with a copy of their current credit report, which they can access for free.

Review the credit report to gain insight into their payment history, debt load, and any red flags. Look for a credit score of at least 650 or higher.

Consistent late payments or collections accounts may indicate potential issues with paying rent reliably. However, consider the context – a few late payments during a gap in employment may not warrant disqualification. Use credit history as one factor among others in your screening process.

Tenant Background Checks in Toledo, OH

Background checks are legal in Ohio for rental property applications, but they must be conducted in accordance with federal, state, and local laws. Background checks can be obtained through Ohio Public Records. However, there are specific legal requirements and considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): Under the FCRA, landlords must obtain the applicant’s written consent, and the applicant must be informed of their rights under the FCRA, including their right to dispute inaccurate information.
  2. Fair Housing Act: Landlords must ensure that their screening process is non-discriminatory and complies with the Fair Housing Act.
  3. Use of Criminal History: While it is legal to consider an applicant’s criminal history, the use of this information must be consistent and non-discriminatory.
Oz Realty, a Professional Property Management Company in Toledo, OH.

Engage Professional Property Management Company in Toledo, OH

After reading about the essentials of tenant screening in Toledo, you may feel overwhelmed as a rental property owner. Finding responsible tenants requires time and expertise – from advertising vacancies to checking references and credit history. Before you’re ready to throw in the towel, know that you don’t have to do it all yourself.

We get it – not every landlord has the time, expertise, or inclination to handle every aspect of tenant screening and property management. In Toledo, partnering with a professional property management company like Oz Realty is an excellent solution saving you time an money while lowering your investment risk. We have a comprehensive tenant placement program that includes advertising vacancies, conducting background checks, collecting rent and handling maintenance issues.

Our transparent, tech-enabled services aim to maximize your rental income while minimizing headaches. Let our expertise work for you so you can spend more time doing what you love.

Partner with Oz Realty today and let us take care of the tenant screening process for a truly passive real estate investing experience.

About the Author

Kelsey Heath

Kelsey Heath is a real estate content specialist with an extensive background in residential, industrial, and commercial property. She has been involved in the industry for a decade as a professional and personal investor, gaining a deep understanding of the market and trends. With a passion for written communication, Kelsey loves helping people understand the sometimes-complicated concepts behind real estate and is now a sought-out guest and ghostwriter.

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