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Tenant Screening: What You Would Want to Know

Tenant screening is often a complicated and confusing topic for landlords. For a variety of reasons, you may not want to rent to a prospective tenant, but you aren't entirely sure of their rights and yours. Below, we examine the most compelling issues tenants regularly face-and their solutions-when dealing with renting their properties.

Denial of Tenancy

One of the biggest issues that tenants deal with today is what the legal grounds may be for denying a renter as a prospective tenant of their rental property. If you are a landlord, you probably have struggled with this issue time and time again. You don’t want a tenant of ill repute who will miss rental payments or cause damage to your property, but you are nervous about possible discrimination suits that might result after your denial. What are you to do? The only way to safeguard your interests, comply with the law, and avoid a lawsuit is through tenant screening.

Tenant Screening Standards

While it is often just a feeling that a landlord may get about a potentially “bad apple” prospective tenant to deny a renter tenancy, legally, this is not enough. It is your discretion as a landlord to choose who rents from you, but without a legal set of screening standards to reference; you are possibly setting yourself up for a lawsuit. This said, you need to create tenant screening standards that are clear and purposeful; and the standards or criteria you choose must be in line with the general rules. So, you cannot set standards based on illegal discrimination-which is due to race, gender, religion, age, earning source, marital status, or sexual proclivity; but you can discriminate based on issues directly related to your tenant-landlord relationship-such as tenant history and financial history.

It is unfortunate that in many cases, you may think all you have is a bad feeling in your stomach that this prospective tenant is irresponsible and disastrous to your property; but often, a thorough and reputable tenant screening will confirm your fears and safeguard you from future legal backlash. The gut is not often wrong, but legally you cannot dismiss a tenant on these grounds; you can with a set of screening standards and a tenant screening process.

If you want to know more about the issue of refusal of tenancy based on your anxiety over the prospect, and other issues also, you may need to consult with your lawyer; sometimes, small landlords may have certain exemptions depending on the laws of the particular state.