A reader: Recently, I purchased a duplex. I’m going to live in one and rent out the other. Can you give me some advice on screening tenants? I really don’t want to rent to anyone that will throw loud parties or be late on their rent. How can I be sure to get good solid renter?
Action Line: The California Department of Consumer Affairs has the following guide that gives you great information as a landlord: “California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities.”
This publication gives you great information offering you a complete look at landlord rights as well as suggestions for pre-rental documents and questions about leases. The publications covers rules for deposits, paying rent, moving out and many more issues.
Renters often will only give you names of people who will say nice things about them. So don’t rely solely on references.
You may also want to have a tenant screening company do the checking for you. You can go to bbb.org/ccie to find reputable tenant screening companies in your area. It’s free.
If you choose to do it yourself, some things to watch out for are:
▪ Unsigned rental application
▪ No photo id available from prospective tenant
▪ No bank account
▪ No credit card debt
▪ No car payment or history of same
▪ No credit history at all
▪ Gaps in employment history
▪ Date of birth is not legible
▪ Social Security number is not legible
Here are some things you can do:
▪ Run a background check
▪ Verify income
▪ Contact previous landlords
▪ Check out social media profiles
Doing your homework first can often save you time and money down the line. If you are still not comfortable, you may want to work with an attorney that can advise on landlord tenant issues. Should you not have your own attorney, you can go to bbb.org/ccie to look for one.
Although we are not attorneys, the BBB does offer free landlord-tenant mediation services by professionally trained mediators that might be useful for you. So if you do have a renter that you are having problems with, BBB can offer mediation. Contact the BBB office at 559-256-6300 to learn more about our mediation services.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.