Selecting the right tenant

Choosing the right tenants for your rental property is vital to the success of your investment. Whether you own a multi-family unit or a single family home, it’s critical to avoid future problems by selecting the best possible tenants to lease your property. And to find the right tenants, there must be a thorough process in place to screen them.

Here are 7 tips to help you select tenants to lease your residential rental property:


1. Treat all possible tenants with equality

The Federal Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination against people based on their race, religion, sex, family status, or disability. State laws also implement rules to follow to prevent discrimination.

Tip: As you screen possible tenants, it’s vital that you follow the guidelines outlined in the Federal Fair Housing Act.

2. Verify income of your potential tenants

Learn not only what the candidate’s current income is, but also their debt-to-income ratio. Ideally, housing and debt expenses combined are looked at against the rental amount. A debt-to-income ratio should be established and looked at carefully when making a decision on a possible tenant.

Tip: Ask for pay stubs, and contact their employer to confirm their employment history and reliability. Stability speaks volumes, so the length of time at a job is significant.

3. Confirm the good credit of your potential tenants

If a potential tenant has good credit and a history of paying bills on time, chances are, that will continue. Likewise, if their credit score is low and they don’t pay bills on time, history will likely repeat itself.

Tip: A potential tenant who has been financially responsible enough to have a good credit score will likely continue to be financially responsible in paying their rent on time.

4. Check your potential tenant’s rental history

Contact the tenant’s last two landlords and find out if they paid their rent on time consistently. If so, continue with questions such as:

  • How much notice were you given when the tenant moved out?
  • Did they treat your property with respect?
  • What condition did they leave your property in when they left?
  • Were they reasonable to work with when a maintenance issue came up?
  • How long did they live in your property?
  • Were they ever disruptive to other tenants or neighbors?

Tip: If there are no red flags from the previous landlords, there’s a good possibility you’ve found a good candidate to be your next tenant.

5. Perform a criminal background check

Once you have a potential tenant’s application, a criminal background check can be run. Ask for a current picture ID to verify their identity. Background checks should include:

  • A Federal Court Record Search
  • A Statewide Criminal Record Search
  • A County Criminal Court Search
  • A Department of Corrections Offender Search
  • A Sex Offender Search

Tip: A property management company can help alleviate the time-consuming details of criminal background checks and other tenant screening details.

6. When it comes to choosing tenants, trust your gut

All the due diligence practices designed to uncover any hidden details about a tenant applicant are important. But equally important is your own gut sense about the candidate. Sometimes you just know when a problem is lurking, even if it doesn’t show up on paper after checking databases, making phone calls, and looking at the obvious.

It pays to look at your own gut sense about the candidate, and weigh your personal sense into the decision equation. As you ask about a potential tenant’s desire in a rental, notice their behavior as well as their words.

  • Are they respectful or rude in their attitudes?
  • Are they cooperative with the application process you’ve outlined?
  • Did they complete the application fully, or leave things blank?
  • Do they appear to be tidy or unkempt?

Tip: Pay attention to the promptness of potential tenants when you show your rental property, and chances are, what you see at the showing is a small sample of what you will see over the long haul.

7. Ask if the potential tenant has pets

You have standards for your property, and it’s expected that they are respected. Look for a tenant that is honest and upfront with you about their pets. It’s not possible to hide a dog (or a smoker smell for that matter), so discuss things up front so there are no surprises to you.

Tip: Explain your pet policy and pet fees in detail so potential tenants are not taken by surprise at your policies and expectations.

We match residential property owners with the right tenants


At McGraw Property Management, we know that smart Tulsa real estate investors and residential rental property owners are keenly aware they need to have a steady income from their property—which comes from finding the right tenants.

  • We believe it should be simple for you to lease and manage your property.
  • We know how time-consuming it can be to find the right tenants, collect payments and manage maintenance requests.
  • We’ve helped hundreds of investors and homeowners find the right tenants and manage their property efficiently.

Three simple steps to getting your property managed efficiently

Stop losing time and money on vacancies and daily tasks. Instead, get the right property management services to help you stay in control of managing your property.

  1. Talk to us
  2. We’ll find the right tenant
  3. We’ll manage your property efficiently

Need help with tenant selection for your residential rental property?

Call McGraw Property Management and let us know how we can help. Tell us what you need to manage your property and make a profit. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is ready to answer any questions you may have.

In the meantime, take a look at our Property Management services or learn about our technology advantage and how it helps us fill vacancies sooner.

Posted by: Chris Swift on April 9, 2019