What to Expect With Tenant Background Screening

woman filling out tenant background screening paperwork

Tenant background screening can seem overwhelming.

After you’ve advertised your Vancouver, WA vacancy, the flood of responses can be overwhelming (especially if you post it on Craigslist). Everyone wants your room, apartment, or duplex, but how do you know who will be a good tenant?

If you’ve been burned before, you know that even the most charming interviewee can flake out on you and turn into a nightmare tenant, leaving you scrambling three months down the line to fix holes in the wall, broken appliances, and a vacancy you were trying to avoid in the first place.

Enter tenant background screening. Whether you do property management in Vancouver, WA like we do or just rent out your basement, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior (as they say). Or in the words of famous poet Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Translation? Tenant background checks, rental history, employment history, criminal checks, and credit reports are the key to safeguarding your Vancouver property investment. Here’s what to expect, whether you hire a property management company or do it yourself.

tenant background screening paperwork

What Tenant Background Screening Entails

We can’t speak for every property management company — unfortunately, some just want to get a warm body in your unit ASAP — but here at Eqwest, our tenant background screening is extremely thorough. We provide the maximum possible screening available to not only ensure that your tenants in Vancouver, WA will pay their rent on time, but that they will take care of your unit and give ample notice before vacating. We make the process as smooth and seamless as can be while maximizing your ROI. Eqwest’s tenant background screening for the Vancouver, WA area includes the following:

  • Credit check
  • Criminal background check
  • Previous evictions
  • Income and employment verification
  • Current rental references
  • Prior rental references

As part of Eqwest’s comprehensive property management, our tenant background screening means your property won’t have a revolving door of tenants. After all, the point of investment or retirement property in Vancouver is to have a low-stress, passive form of income that will reward you for decades, not an expensive headache that becomes more trouble than it’s worth.

What Tenant Background Screening Can and Cannot Include

Screening can be tricky. Legally, according to the Federal Fair Housing Act, you cannot ask about a tenant’s religion, national origin, race, or gender, or whether they have children or are disabled. (Some states have certain laws about this as well, extending to age, sexual orientation, marital status, and more.) You also cannot ask if a prospective tenant has been arrested before, although you’ll definitely want to know if they have a criminal record.

It’s the questions you can ask that will eat up your time. Do you really want to spend all day scouring federal, state, and county criminal court records, the sex offender database, and the DOC offender list? And then calling former landlords and employers in Vancouver to make sure someone’s application is accurate? Don’t pull your hair out. Let Eqwest handle it for you.
keys to apartment after successful tenant screening Photo: Jake Liefer

Why Use Eqwest Property Management for Your Tenant Screening?

When it comes to tenant background screening in Vancouver, WA, our motto at Eqwest is “No desperation renting.” We never want you to feel like you don’t have the time or resources to investigate a potential tenant. You shouldn’t have to resign yourself to the first available candidate, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. We take those worries off your hands so you can get back to the rest of your life.

After all, Eqwest’s team is deeply familiar with the legal requirements surrounding both recruiting and screening tenants in Vancouver, WA. Plus, we pull your tenant options from a pool of excellent candidates, not the general public. We reduce your risks and unnecessary expenses. (Still not convinced? Check out 5 reasons to work with a property management company.)

Have you screened tenants before? Do you use a property management company or do it yourself?

If tenant screening sounds overwhelming, let Eqwest take it off your plate. Get in touch today with the best property management company in Vancouver, WA.

What to Expect With Tenant Background Screening

You’ve weighed the pros and cons, thought about the possible outcomes, and decided that your best option is to move forward with a property management company. Good choice.

(If you’re still in decision-making phase about what to do with your home or commercial property, or the best way to direct your homeowner association or condo association, read here about the solutions property management companies like EQWEST offer: 5 Reasons to Work with a Property Management Company.)

Making the decision to work with a property management company was the easy part. Now comes the difficult legwork. Vetting property management companies can be as difficult as finding great renters. During the renter screening process, you’re looking for people who are trustworthy, attentive, responsible and who come well-recommended. Screening potential property management companies is very similar. You’re looking for those good qualities.

for rent sign - rental property management

(Image: Charleston’s The Digitel)

Where do you start? First, get out a pen and paper or open a Word Doc to take notes on companies you might want to work with. Then, open your search engine of choice in a web browser and get searching.

As you begin to find companies in your area that look good and specialize in the type of service you’re looking for, you’ll want to ask yourself the following 4 questions to get a better sense of whether you really want to engage in a relationship with them… or steer clear.

1. Is this property management company responsive?

The last thing you want from a property management company is a group of inattentive individuals who only call when the roof caves in. At EQWEST, we answer the phone 12/7. When you call during business hours, you’ll be put in direct contact with an owner of our company – someone with the power and willingness to take action and solve your problem as soon as they can. You’ll want to avoid companies that don’t share our sense of urgency.

paperwork and research for property management company

(Image: Rob Nguyen)

2. Are they experienced?

When it comes to property management, a lack of experience leads to inefficiency. You’ll want to find a company with more than 5 years experience at the very least. Partners at EQWEST have 35 years experience in property management, with 25 of those years spent managing properties in Clark County specifically. We know all of the mistakes young companies make, because we’ve made them, changed our processes to be more efficient, and never looked back. There aren’t many companies who can boast the years experience and level of customer service that EQWEST can.

3. Do the property managers specialize?

Beware of property management companies that also own and operate maintenance company. This type of business setup leads to a conflict of interest, diluted attention to day-to-day needs, and higher owner costs. EQWEST specializes in rental management — both residential and commercial — as well as professional community association management. We’re not interested in anything more than running your property or community association with the same care and diligence that you would. This dovetails nicely into our next point…

firm handshake with property manager

(Image: Flazingo Photos)

4. Are they looking after your best interests?

Business is business. Anyone you work with is looking to run their business efficiently and make money. What differentiates good property management companies from scammy ones is how they define “efficiency.”

In scammy property management companies, this means cutting corners: providing poor customer service, skimping on the renter screening process, and worse. They’re overloaded with work due and concerned more with their overhead than getting the best results for you, the owner.

At EQWEST, we pride ourselves in thinking like the owner of a real property, not like property managers. We perform meticulous screening of our rental applicants. This results in fewer long-term problems and better “bottom line” for owners. We think as much like asset managers as daily property managers, balancing short-term and long-term decisions for the best results for you.

You’ll also want to be sure to get referrals and talk to multiple property management companies in your area. When it comes to finding someone to manage your property, you can never be too careful. You owe it to yourself to do due diligence in your search for the right fit.

At the end of the day, trust your gut. Who makes you feel the most comfortable? Who do you think to be the most competent? EQWEST strives to make all of our potential clients feel this way. Don’t hesitate to ask us for more information if we sound like the right fit for you. An owner is just a phone call away.

4 Tips for Finding a Property Management Company You Can Trust

If you rent your home or commercial property, you know how how time consuming basic tasks like maintenance, applicant screening, showings and renter relationship management can be. When you own several properties or live out of state, these tasks become even more difficult. This puts a strain on your time, your energy, and your nerves.

cedar shingle house in Portland

 

Working with a property management company can help alleviate these stresses so you can get back to doing what you enjoy doing. We work with rental home owners, “plex” owners, property owners, homeowner associations and condo associations to save them time and minimize their property-related headaches. Could we do the same for you? Here are 5 reasons we’ve found that clients decide to work with a property management company like EQWEST.

 

  • You don’t have to stress over details. You know how people say, The devil is in the details? This is especially true in complex fields like real estate. Staying on top of laws and book-keeping can become a nightmare, especially if you are not a naturally detail-oriented person. Unless you love crunching numbers and translating legalese, you’ll want to leave the details to a seasoned professional.
  • You don’t have to be a people person. Does picking up the phone to call a renter fill you with anxiety? Are you not able to effectively be the ‘bearer-of-bad-news’? Do you have a hard time turning away tenants that you know are a bad fit? When you work with a top-notch property management company, you get the best of both worlds – a dispassionate, unemotional decision maker with a vested interest in your property. You’ll never have to deal with awkward or heated conversations with tenants again. For condominium and homeowner association clients, we work as a knowledgeable advisor mitigating the needs of the association as a whole and its individual members. We’re in attendance at every association board meeting, helping to minimize politics and get important things done.
  • You don’t have to panic over emergencies. In an ideal world, you’d get a star renter settled in and hear from them once a month when they send their rent check. Unfortunately, there are things like appliance failures, pest infestation, mold growth, and other issues that come up and it’s your responsibility to deal with them. On the more extreme end, kitchen fires, break-ins and other emergencies are emotionally taxing and require more immediate and aggressive management. How do you handle these issues? Working with a property management company shortens your contingency plan to a single line: “Let the property management company handle it.”
  • You don’t have to lose sleep thinking about far-away properties. A good property management company like EQWEST can take care of your property regardless of where you are located. We’ll be your eyes and ears in the area. If your property or tenants encounter a problem, we have no issue stepping away from the phone to pay a personal visit. Resolving your property issues quickly and effectively – wherever you choose to go – is our specialty.
  • You don’t have to worry about hiring quality home care professionals. Need repairs? Don’t waste time scouring Google, Yelp and Angie’s list praying to find a professional who shows up on time and fixes the problem. As a property management company, we shoulder the responsibility of finding the right people for the job and making sure they perform promptly, professionally and cost-effectively..
Pink Victorian style house in Portland Oregon.

Not convinced working with a property management company is the way to go? Leave any questions you have in the comments. We’re happy to address them.

If you’re ready to save the time, money, and occasional headache managing your rentals, contact us today.