Atlanta Property Management Services: Tenant Screening

Specialized Property Management Atlanta offers a full range of Atlanta property management services. That means we take care of every part of the rental cycle, using our knowledge and experience to give you a better return on investment. We know that choosing a tenant can be one of the most difficult parts of owning rental property. Many property owners feel pressured to accept the first tenant to fill out a rental application. They are afraid that rejecting that tenant will mean money lost due to vacancy days. However, placing an unqualified tenant can be even more expensive in the long run. Read about our tenant selection process below.

How Rental Home Price Can Attract Quality Tenants

Selecting the right tenant for your rental home actually starts well before your home goes on the market. Pricing your home competitively, not too high or too low, is the first step in tenant selection. High-quality tenants will be shopping around for homes, and know what a reasonable price is. As part of our Atlanta property management services, we will do the research to price your home competitively. We will look at comparable properties in your area to help you determine what price will bring in the tenants you want. If your home is priced too low, many tenants will assume there is a problem with it and eliminate it from their list of options. Overpricing your home will also drive potential tenants away, and toward other homes that are priced reasonably. Most tenants won’t pay any more than they have to toward rent. 

Marketing Strategies That Reduce Vacancy Days

There are several “free” ways to market your rental property. Posting an ad on Craigslist and other classified sites, setting up a “For Rent” sign in the front yard, and word-of-mouth advertising are a few. Unfortunately, these days it is rare for a high-quality tenant to find your property one of these ways. The most effective way to advertise is by accessing the dozens of websites tenants look at to find the perfect property. Websites like, Trulia, and Zillow bring in millions of users, combing through the properties available in Atlanta. Our Atlanta property management services include posting your rental listing on all of these websites, as well as our own rental search page

When creating a listing for your rental home, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Make it shine: your home needs to look its best in posting pictures. Don’t put your home on the market or take pictures while it is still undergoing renovations. Consider hiring a professional cleaner to make every surface shine before taking pictures for your listing.
  • Highlight the assets: write a listing that appeals to renters in your area. Is the home close to public transit or in a good school district? Does it feature a spacious backyard and a laundry unit? Some features may appeal to buyers, but not to renters. Talk to your property manager to find out what features will appeal to Atlanta renters.
  • Curb appeal: don’t put off landscaping or lawn care just because there is no tenant. In addition to looking great for pictures, your property should look great at other times. Potential tenants often drive by the property after seeing it online, but before they decide to schedule a walk-through. 

Showings are Part of Atlanta Property Management Services 

The job of a property manager during a rental vacancy is largely being available to take the call. When a potential tenant calls to request a showing, they do not want to wait around until you get off work or can meet them on the weekend. Being available to show a rental unit when it is convenient for the potential tenant will reduce vacancy days.

These days most tenants know what they want in a rental home. The filtering feature of websites like HotPads is a valuable way to make a shortlist of homes to see in person. A tenant’s first impression is the online listing, which includes high quality, professional photographs. Once a tenant has decided to call our property management office, they have already put the property on their shortlist, and they are more likely to request a rental application at the viewing. That is one reason we encourage you to take great listing pictures, and only put the home on the market when it is rent ready.

Atlanta Property Management Services and Tenant Screening

In order to rent a home, prospective tenants must first fill out a rental application and submit to screening. This screening is one of the most important parts of the rental cycle, but it isn’t as straightforward as many people think it is. 

Tenants should fill out their application quickly and completely to avoid any leasing delays. A thorough background check, credit check, income verification, and rental history should be performed for every application. At Specialized Property Management Atlanta, we require all residents over 18 to fill out a rental application, whether or not they will be paying the rent. For example, an 18-year-old high school senior who lives with his parents must fill out an application even though his parents will be paying the rent. 

Proper screening requires several documents from the tenant. A government-issued ID, tax and bank statements, and pay stubs are needed to verify identity and income. Use only secure channels to request and receive documents electronically. Keeping these documents secure and private is one of the Atlanta property management services we offer.

The steps to properly screen a tenant are:

  • Learn the tenant’s rental history. Talk with former landlords to find out what kind of a tenant the applicant was, and whether or not the landlord would rent to that tenant again. Was the tenant on-time with rent payment? Did the tenant leave the property in good condition? Were there any lease disputes, or violations of the lease terms? 
  • Verify the tenant’s employment and income status. Gainful employment is a must, and the tenant should earn three times the monthly rent to qualify. 
  • Perform a credit check. A bad credit score doesn’t always mean the tenant will be a bad fit. Look for red flags such as unpaid utility bills, bankruptcy, auto repossession, and especially eviction. 
  • Run a criminal background check. Some items that come up on a background check are not concerning, but others can disqualify a tenant. A minor traffic violation is not a big deal. A recent felony conviction, on the other hand, may disqualify the tenant. 

Screening tenants isn’t a cut and dry process. Our Atlanta property management services help landlords navigate the nuances of tenant screening in order to pick the most qualified candidate. Vacancy days are expensive, but tenant turnover and evictions are even more costly. Placing a candidate with great credit, rental history, a clean background check, and sufficient income will lead to a more successful investment.

The Fair Housing Act

We can’t talk about tenant screening without talking about the Fair Housing Act. Passed in 1968, the Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, disability, and familial status. In order to provide equal access to housing, tenant screening should never be based on these factors. A landlord who is found to have violated the fair housing act can face steep fines. 

What does this discrimination look like in the real world? Some landlords and property managers find themselves discriminating without even realizing it. Steering a prospective tenant to a certain neighborhood based on their race is one common example of racial discrimination. Full knowledge of the ins and outs of the Fair Housing Act is necessary when screening tenants. 

Using Our Atlanta Property Management Services

If tenant screening sounds like a delicate process, that is because it is. In fact, it is one area that DIY landlords tend to make the most mistakes. And when mistakes are made during the tenant selection process, the consequences are expensive. Take these examples:

  • Failing to contact previous landlords means your tenant may have a history of leaving their rental property in disrepair. Even after using all the security deposit you may have to shell out more money for repairs when the tenant moves out.
  • As a property owner, you would like to think your tenant puts “rent” at the top of their budget priorities. But that isn’t always true. Checking a tenant’s debt to income ratio is important, so you know they can afford to pay their rent every month. 
  • Your rental property is located on a busy street and does not have a fenced-in yard. When a family with small children is interested in renting it you tell them to look elsewhere, as this isn’t a very “kid-friendly” home. Unfortunately, you’ve just violated the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of familial status.

Using our Atlanta property management services means you will be protected from these common, costly landlord mistakes. Our professional property managers are dedicated to finding you the best tenant possible, while following all state, local, and federal laws. To learn more about our property management services, or request a rental quote, call us at 404-596-8454.

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