Credit Checks and Other Useful Tools for Landlords in Merced to Screen a Tenant - Article Banner

Now that you’ve effectively marketed your vacant rental property and the tenant inquiries are coming in, how do you manage to find the right tenant?

River Drive Properties provides effective and professional property management services in Merced and the surrounding areas including Fresno, Modesto, and Turlock. We have extensive experience with both single-family homes and multifamily properties.

Our extensive leasing and management experience has allowed us to create a tenant screening process that’s fair, consistent, and legally compliant. The laws in California have changed dramatically over the last two years, and one of the easiest ways to make a mistake is with the screening process.

Let’s take a look at some of the important things you need to know while conducting a tenant background check.

Providing an Application for Prospective Tenants

Before we accept an application from any tenant, we make sure they’ve seen the property. No one should apply to rent a home that they haven’t seen yet. We make the showing process simple and accessible as well. We don’t require prospective renters to complete an application before we show them the property. This only costs us time and resources, and we want to rent your home out quickly. We also conduct showings on the weekends, when tenants are available to see properties.

Online applications make our screening process automated, secure, and fair housing-friendly. If a prospective tenant sees a home and likes it, they can apply online right away. We’ll provide our standard rental criteria and we’ll conduct the credit check and usual tenant background check.

Screening Checklist: Verifying Identity, Income, and Financial Stability

Our tenant background check includes a credit check. We aren’t necessarily requiring perfect credit, but we do want to know that tenants are financially stable and not drowning in debt. We also look for any money or debts owed to former landlords or apartment communities. That would be a cause for concern. We also conduct a nationwide eviction search and check the applicant’s rental history. We would like to know if they have had good experiences with past landlords.

Income is also important because you want to make sure your tenants can afford the rent. Ask for income verification, whether that’s a pay stub or an employment contract, a tax form or a bank statement.

Section 8 Housing and Tenant Screening

One of the new provisions in the SB 329 law that went into effect in 2020 is that you cannot exclude tenants who use Section 8 housing vouchers. In the past, landlords could have a blanket policy where Section 8 tenants were simply not considered. You would see it in advertisements. This is not legally permissible anymore. Landlords must consider all sources of income during the screening process, including housing vouchers.

lawIt’s important that you understand this when you’re screening tenants. If you deny an otherwise qualified applicant who can cover your $1,500 rental amount with a Section 8 voucher, you could face a fair housing lawsuit.

The tenant screening process doesn’t have to be complex, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when you’re trying to choose the right tenant and follow the pertinent laws. We can help. If you have any questions about screening tenants or anything pertaining to Merced property management and leasing, please contact us at River Drive Properties.