Get In Touch


(443) 548-0191

Discover The Tidewater Difference

Discover The Tidewater Difference

get in touch

back to blog

How to Screen Tenants in 3 Easy Steps

Tenant Services

For landlords and rental property managers, screening tenants is one of the most critical and difficult tasks to perform properly. Although the majority of prospective tenants are decent people who treat the rental property with respect, occasionally a bad tenant can slip through the screening process, leading to financial losses, property damage, or legal liabilities. Though not every tenant can be a great tenant, a comprehensive screening and vetting system can help increase the odds of finding reputable tenants. Tenant screening begins with the first meeting during which you spend time showing your property and getting to know prospective tenants. While this first impression is important and will have a significant impact on the final decision, you cannot rely on instinct alone. This is where the rental application comes in.

realtor welcomes family of 4 inside new house

Request a Completed Application

A basic rental application will help you gain a better picture of the financial stability and personal history of each prospective tenant, allowing you to see beyond the first impression to spot a potentially bad tenant before the lease is signed. Many organizations can provide sample applications, such as local real estate associations or internet sites, which you can customize to fit your needs and the local laws for your area. Each applicant should supply the following information:

  • Current income: Be sure the applicant can afford the rent comfortably, which should be about 30% of total income.
  • Credit information: This should include details about credit cards, bank balances, and any outstanding debts. Ideal tenants should have minimal debt and sufficient emergency reserves.
  • Employment: Details about current and previous employers, including contact information, employment periods, and reasons for leaving.
  • Previous rentals: Details about previous rentals, including contact information, rental periods, and reasons for leaving.
  • Occupancy: Number of people and pets that will occupy the rental property.

Run a Credit and Background Check

Credit scores, ranging from 300 to 850, serve as a gauge of an applicant’s financial responsibility. To illustrate, if a potential tenant possesses a low credit score and a track record of tardy bill payments, it is reasonable for a landlord to anticipate that rent payments may also be delayed.

In addition, a comprehensive background check unveils any criminal records an applicant may have, as well as public records indicating if the applicant is facing legal actions that could impact their ability to make timely rent payments, such as significant medical bills or outstanding child support payments.

Be sure that the rental application also requests permission for credit and background checks. Review each completed form carefully, and discuss any missing information with potential tenants to determine if they are obscuring information purposely.

Speak With Your Applicants References 

Checking references is also important to build a complete picture of prospective tenants, though they should be considered carefully for bias. Contact previous employers to learn more about prospective tenants and their personal histories and reliability. Ask previous landlords about payment histories, how the property was treated, and problems with neighbors or authorities. Finally, interview each potential tenant, and ask about issues like work schedule, smoking, visitors, roommates, and pets. Discuss your expectations and any issues the tenant may have. Once you are satisfied that you have a great tenant, you can start the lease process.

Rental Management Services in Maryland

At Tidewater Property Management, we can help you find the perfect tenants for your property, allowing you to protect your assets while avoiding the intensive screening process. Contact us today at (443) 548-0191 for more information!

grandson sits on his grandfathers shoulders
Our Mission

Since we opened our doors in 1989, Tidewater has been offering personal customer service throughout Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and West Virginia. Due to our dedication to helping homeowners buy, sell, rent, and maintain their properties, we have become one of the largest family owned full-service real estate management companies in the area.

grandson sits on his grandfathers shoulders
Family Owned & Operated
Since 1989
Experienced &
Knowledgeable Professionals
24/7/365 Emergency
Exceptional Customer
Online Portal
high-rise luxury apartments with balconies high-rise luxury apartments with balconies
Tidewater managed my condo for 2 years. They were professional, promptly addressed service requests, inspected my property to ensure it was being properly cared for by the tenants and gave me ultimate peace of mind,…
Profile Img
Maisha C. Maisha C.
Tidewater has been managing my property in Odenton, MD, for nearly 5 years. They have been excellent in supporting my needs, and leave me feeling confident that my property is in good hands while deployed.…
Profile Img
Ben C. Ben C.
My experience was great! I had the pleasure of working with Melody Timmons. She was very responsive to messages and very communicative. She made every effort to accommodate us when scheduling a time and date…
Profile Img
Nicole S. Nicole S.
Tidewater provided incredible service as they managed my rental property for more than 3 years. The team is responsive, communicative, and professional. Highly recommend Tidewater Property Management!
Profile Img
Shayna H. Shayna H.
Cody helped us purchase our new home in Baltimore. We were living in Arizona and had a lot of complications to work through logistically and Cody stepped up every time to help us out. He…
Profile Img
Matt M. Matt M.