Proper tenant screening is the absolute key to a successful rental property. Good tenants take care of the place, pay rent on time, which equals a happy owner. You could have the right property, at the right price, with the right management team, but if you get the wrong tenant, they can quickly turn your property from bliss to misery. In my previous blog post I revealed a tip on how to attract more applicants that will have incentive to be more honest in the application process. In these tenant screening tips blog posts I will not go over the traditional, or conventional methods that 100% have their place and are very important (credit checks, rental verification, employment verification, etc.). What I want to touch on is an unconventional method that serves as a support to all the traditional methods that we use.
That’s right, I use social media to get better insight on prospective tenants. Now how would this be useful or helpful? Let me give you a recent example. We had what looked to be a qualified applicant for a nice home in Gilbert. They had good credit and good jobs and had indicated on their application that they had a “Lab mix” as a dog. On this particular home, the owner was okay with a single pet with her approval. I looked up the people on Facebook and sure enough there were countless photos of their dog on their page. You could tell they loved their dog and she was a big part of their life. The perfect pet owner, right? Here was the problem, the dog was not a “Lab mix” as stated on the application, she was a Pit Bull. This would have posed a huge liability for the owner and their insurance would not have covered an incident with this breed of dog. Of course there are other methods of finding this stuff out like requiring a photo of the pet, inspections, etc. But by spending about 1 minute on social media, I was able to detect a major issue and expose an applicant that was willing to lie to rent this property.
Most of the time social media doesn’t support or expose prospective tenants, and that is fine. But every once and a while it really helps us avoid a a potentially bad situation by identifying a discrepancy in the application that a credit report might not find. If it’s there to use and possibly help in deciding whether or not to rent to someone, then you should use it!