10 qualification guidelines to follow when screening tenants for your San Diego rental property

During the process of attracting prospective tenants for your San Diego rental property; keep in mind quality tenants desire to live in quality properties. More often than not, quality tenants are on time with their rental payments, they display a greater degree of care with respect to cleanliness and ware and tare to the property. Further, they tend to honor and abide by the terms of their rental lease agreement, and they stay for longer periods. What defines a quality tenant?


The FICO score commonly known as a credit score is only one aspect of an applicant’s credit report and is a mathematical estimation of a persons’ ability to fulfill financial obligations based on previous accounts. Using historical records, each of the 3 credit bureaus Trans-union, Equinox and Experience have their own individual algorithm for calculating credit rating scores and is relied on by property management firms in San Diego. In many cases a person who has enormous debt, whom has been able to make regular payments can maintain a very high credit score. In these cases, it is helpful to hedge credit rating by calculating the debt to income ratio and percentage of debt to credit limits to help weed out high debt and high FICO score applicants.


Amongst residential property management companies in San Diego, it has become the consensus that Trans-union Smart Move is the most accurate and comprehensive database for eviction histories available to landlords and property management companies. The goal of this platform is to have the advantage of accurately matching an applicant to an existing eviction record(s), even when personal information is limited to a name, social security and date of birth. To make the search more comprehensive, a driver license number can be requested San Diego property management companies as a fourth indicator of personal identity to strengthen the search. Tenants for your San Diego rental property, most research on the subject indicates rental management companies in San Diego assert that prior eviction history is highly predictive of future evictions.


Criminal History

Verifying that you can trust your tenants is of the upmost importance. That’s why San Diego property management companies are encouraged to access millions of criminal records that provide prospective tenants’ criminal background checks. This research helps property owners and property managers steer clear of problematic renters. There are 50 states in the USA and the equation is simple, 45 states including California allow for this aspect of screening. More coverage state to state and accurate matching of arrest, warrant and bail information assist property managers select candidates for single family homes and residential apartments in San Diego. In summary better information that can be gleaned quickly, and as a result rental management companies in San Diego can make faster decisions to keep your house or building convict free.

Read Also: Landlord Treatment of Tenant Security Deposits


Like Credit scores, rent to Income percentages are equally as important as qualifier for screening by residential property management within San Diego. Typically, rental property management services require that an applicant can prove that their monthly income is at least 3 times the monthly rent. As an example, if two roommates or a couple are looking at a house or an apartment with a rental rate of $3,000 per month, a professional property management company would require a combined income of $3,000 × 3, which equals $9,000. As an even more robust screening standard, many property management companies in San Diego have even raised their criteria to require income that is 4 times the monthly rate.


For a standard tenant-occupied home, San Diego residential property management firms typically prefer a total debt-to-income ratio of 30% or less. Some property managers will go up to 35% depending on other qualifying factors, but it is not recommended unless the applicant can prove healthy cash reserves of at least 12 x the monthly rental rate. Akin to an applicants’ credit score and cash reserves, the debt to income ratio is a strong qualifier as it compares your total gross monthly income with your monthly debt payment obligations.


The best property management companies in San Diego know that a tenants’ healthy cash reserves will predict a tenants’ cash flow position. High cash reserves is indicative of less disturbances in a tenants’ cash flow. With increased cash flow it is less likely that a tenant will be late on rent or have an NSF (Non-Sufficient Funds) that will result in a returned check. A healthy cash reserve is anywhere between 12-18 months of rentals payments.


Unfortunately, most property management companies have dealt with inaccurate and or falsified employment history on rental applications. In addition, some applicants will state an inflated pay grade in an attempt to qualify for or rental property. Prudent practice dictates collecting the two most recent months pay stubs to verify current employment at the outset of the employment verification procedure. Additionally, the employer of the applicant should be contacted to verify that the applicant is still employed with the entity or company listed as their employer. Only the following questions and inquires may be evaluated.


The primary consideration for a residential property management services company in San Diego is detailed and complete rental applications. A property manager simply cannot make an informed decision without it. An incomplete rental application should be sent back to the applicant(s) to be finished along with an indication that the application will not be processed until all fields are completed. A completed rental application includes identifying information such as name, current address, phone number and email. Additionally, along the application form, proof of income, existing landlord contact information and employment information must be supplied. Identification cannot be collected at this stage per California Fair Housing laws, however identification is required prior to executing a lease agreement. Incomplete applications usually represent that a prospective tenant is not responsible, or they are intentionally withholding information in most cases.


Contacting the previous landlords and not just the current landlord is a prudent policy. The current landlord in some cases may want the tenants out of the property and thus will supply a stellar review. Always contact the previous landlords as well. Inquire about rental rate charged, the existence of late rent payments, NSF rent payments and lease violations only. If there is a suspicion that the information provided for their landlord is false, rental property management services companies will often cross-check the property tax records to make sure the prior or existing landlord is actually the real property owner and not just a friend.


Charging administrative screening fees as a blanket policy is not recommended in today’s environment. Tenants for your San Diego rental property, many management companies have moved in the direction of asking the applicants to pay for their screening through Trans-union Smart Move on their debit card. Since the processing of applications is digital and paperless in most cases, it does not take the administrative time and resources that once were common. Most notable, is that you don’t want to deter prospective tenants from applying due to an application fee.

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