If you’ve newly acquired your first residential investment property, the prospect of getting your first tenant may seem a bit daunting. When you’re ready to get someone into the home and get your new stream of revenue flowing, you’ll need a standard application that prospective tenants fill out so you can properly screen them. And this obviously means you need to know what information to ask for on rental applications.
It is of course important that you do your due diligence in screening anyone before signing a lease with them. A credit check, background check, confirmation of employment and income, and other aspects of screening help minimize the risk of ending up with a renter who fails to pay or causes other problems during the course of their tenancy.
Information All Prospective Tenants Should Supply
To thoroughly vet the people who seek to live in your investment property, here is all the information to ask for on rental applications:
- Personal information – This includes their name, date of birth, current address, and phone number. It is generally not necessary to request their Social Security Number anymore, as you can run a credit check without them today.
- Work history – Ask for their current employment status, recent work history (it’s helpful to see a few years to determine financial and personal stability), and the start and end dates. Request contact information for a supervisor or HR department to confirm current employment.
- Monthly income – Have applicants provide their monthly pre-tax income, and designate space for them to include additional income from freelance work, second jobs, etc. Always confirm income with pay stubs or bank statements.
- Residence history – See at least two to three years of residence history from an applicant to help determine their record of making rental payments on time and their general stability. Get move-in and move-out dates, as well as contact information for the landlords.
- References – Request two or three references, such as current or former bosses, co-workers, college professors, previous landlords, etc. This helps with additional verification.
- Pets – Find out if the prospective tenant has any pets, and ask about dog size or breed. There are good reasons to allow pets in your rental property, but if you don’t, you can rule out applicants who have them. If you do permit pets, you know whether you need to address your pet policy and charges.
- Evictions and refusals to pay rent – This is information to ask for on rental applications to help avoid potential problem tenants. Find out if they’ve ever been evicted, or if they ever refused to pay rent due to a dispute with a landlord. Give them the opportunity to explain, though.
- Criminal convictions – You may choose to inquire about felony or misdemeanor criminal convictions as part of your screening process. This information can also be uncovered if you perform a background check.
- Smoking – It’s nice to know upfront if a smoker will be living in your investment property. No smoking policies are common these days, as smoking inside leaves a smell that’s impossible to get rid of for a long time. If you have a smoking policy or a designated smoking area, indicate it here so that smokers know what they’re signing up for (and, when applicable, non-smokers appreciate knowing the property wasn’t smoked in).