Investing in property for the first time can be a bit nerve-wracking, especially when it comes to finding the ideal tenant. Most Georgia landlords are aware of the potential pitfalls of taking on an unreliable renter, but they may not know where to start when it comes to the screening process. What can be asked, and what should be asked? What are some ways to prevent fraudulent claims? Here are a few tips:
- Ask important questions upfront: The first phone call is a good opportunity to ask general questions like how many people will be living in a home, the renter`s income and the renter’s rent budget. Although the answers to the most important of these questions should be verified later on, this can be a chance to see if the tenant would be a good fit before taking the time to show them the property.
- Steer clear of discriminatory questions: It’s natural to want to know as much as possible about a possible tenant. However, it is important to know that asking questions about race, disability, religion or even near future plans (such as retiring or having children) could end poorly for a potential landlord. By avoiding these questions, a landlord can help protect themselves from accusations of discrimination.
- Verify, verify, verify: It is a good idea to verify everything a tenant shares to make sure he or she is who he or she professes to be. This means calling his or her current employer and past landlords. With the consent of the prospective tenant, a background check can also be done.
Asking the right questions, avoiding the wrong ones and doing due diligence are important steps when screening a possible tenant. In addition to these tips, it is also a good idea to have a lawyer available to answer any questions that may arise or to help provide information regarding contracts, disputes and landlord-tenant laws in Georgia. Protecting one’s legal interests is important for any business owner, including those who lease property.