The real estate market here in the Bay Area is one of the most expensive in the country. While the demand would seem to favor landlords being able to pick and choose their tenants, owners can be strategic about targeting their ideal renter by taking specific steps over the marketing to and screening those who are interested in renting your property. There are a few critical criteria to consider.
Confirm their financial stability
There are few 100% guarantees of financial stability. Nevertheless, there are some steps that the owner can take to verify the tenant’s income — their rent should be one-third or less of their monthly income. This includes:
- Ask them for copies of recent pay stubs.
- Call the employer to confirm the potential tenant’s employment, length of their employment, and earnings.
- Run a credit check to determine the amount of debt they have.
Run a criminal background check
Everyone makes missteps in life, but it never hurts to run a criminal background check. Since criminal information is a matter of public record, it is simple enough to check for serious and minor offenses. Confirm their identity with a valid picture ID before running the check. Check federal, state and county searches as well as the sex offender database. It’s important to remember that California prohibits landlords from discriminating against potential renters with certain convictions.
Look up their rental history
Talk to past landlords when possible, but remember that they may be trying to get rid of a bad tenant. So, it also helps to look at the details. Red flags include a history with many short-term rentals, gaps, or other information that indicates an unstable rental history.
Place maximum capacities on renters in the space
California unofficially uses a “two-plus-one” formula, which permits two people per bedroom plus one additional person for the household. There are no definite rules on the maximum number of occupants, but it is wise to consider health and safety when choosing a number.
Follow all applicable laws
Landlords or their representatives must follow all laws, including the Federal Fair Housing Act, which was drafted to prevent discrimination based on race or color, nation of origin, sex, disability, religion, and familial status. Owners with questions about how to legally screen tenants can consult with an attorney who handles landlord-tenant issues.