Property Management Blog

Tenant Screening 101: How to Spot Red Flags in a Background Check in Tucson, AZ

Kyle - Tuesday, November 15, 2016

There’s a process for how we qualify prospective tenants, and today we are sharing some Tucson tenant screening tips. It’s important to look at each tenant the same way and rate them the same way to comply with all fair housing requirements.

Screening a Tenant: Where to Start

We look at several things, starting with the FICO score and the risk score that concentrates on the last six months. We look at their history of home ownership and rentals. We look at their income or their assets because some people aren’t employed but have assets or are retired. The rental history and income are doubled on our checklist, because they are most important.

Screening a Tenant: Keeping Score

The scoring sheet we use has a number of different categories. We consider their income or savings and compare it to the rent, and we look at whether they have any tax liens that might supersede or prevent them from paying rent. We look at monthly income to debt. Someone with an income of $4,000 and monthly debts including rent of $2,000 is a good risk. But debts of $10,000 a month with an income of $4,000 is clearly not a good risk. We want to know that before renting a property. We also look at collection accounts; if they are for failure to pay a mortgage, it will show up in the credit score. If we see the tenant has failed to pay credit card bills, that’s a negative, especially if they have more than one.

Medical debts are not counted because we know not everyone has health insurance, and that can really break the bank. We look at their delinquent accounts and how many they have as a percentage of all the accounts they have. We keep track and we total everything up. If they end up with a negative score, they cannot rent from us. If it’s a positive number, but below a certain number, we reject them. But work with them to see what they can do to build their credit with us. They may volunteer last month’s rent to encourage us to agree to a lease. If the tenant lands above a specific total, they are approved and we just have to communicate with the owner that we have an approved tenant. Then, we discuss the terms and conditions of the lease.

Screening a Tenant: Additional Checks

It’s also a good idea to do a background check in Tucson and nationally. We look to see if there are any evictions. An eviction in the last three years will be an automatic no. An eviction from 20 years ago when the tenant was in college is a little different. We look to see if they are on the no fly watch list and if they are, we say no. We also look at misdemeanors and felonies. We don’t want to rent to anyone with a history of violent crime or sexual offenses. Finally, if there is a question, we look at driving history. Minor speeding and parking tickets don’t matter, but reckless endangerment and DUIs do. 

 If you have any questions about tenant screening or you’d like to talk about Tucson property management, please contact us at Foothills Properties.