Find a Tenant: Credit Check and Screening

Jun 12, 2023 By Triston Martin

Are you a property owner looking for a tenant? Having the right tenant can be the difference between enjoying your rental income and dealing with costly, time-consuming legal matters. Conducting proper credit checks and screening is essential to ensure that you get the best possible candidate for your property.

In this blog post, we'll provide an overview of what constitutes an effective credit check and advise on how to screen tenants properly. Keep reading to find out more about ensuring responsible tenants in your properties.

Understanding Your Tenant Screening Process

Running a credit check and screening is essential when looking for a tenant. Credit checks help you determine the tenant's ability to pay rent on time and in full each month, while screening helps you identify any potential red flags that could put your property at risk.

Credit checks and screenings can come in many forms, so it's important to understand your tenant screening process before you start looking for a tenant. The most common types of credit checks and screenings include:

1. Credit score: A credit score indicates how a person handles financial responsibilities. Generally, the higher the credit score, the more likely a tenant is to pay rent on time.

2. Background check: A background check helps identify any potential red flags that could put your property at risk, such as a history of criminal activity or eviction.

3. References: Checking prospective tenants' references can provide valuable insight into their rental history and how they typically interact with landlords.

4. Employment verification: Verifying a tenant's current employment status helps you assess their ability to pay rent each month.

Once you have completed the credit check and screening process, it's important to ensure that the information is accurate. Requesting additional documents or re-checking references can help you make the best decision for your property.

When to Check a Potential Tenant's Credit

Landlords must perform a credit check on potential tenants before signing any lease agreement. This protects the landlord from financial risk by ensuring a tenant has a history of paying rent on time and in full. Reviewing a tenant's credit report for accuracy is important, as errors can negatively impact the rental decision.

The credit check should be done after the tenant completes a rental application and passes a preliminary screening. A credit report will provide additional information about an applicant, such as any outstanding debts or bankruptcies. This will help landlords make more informed decisions about who to accept as a tenant.

What Does a Credit Check Tell You About a Tenant

A credit check provides insight into a potential tenant's financial reliability and responsibility. It shows the landlord their payment utilization, such as how many accounts they have open and if they are current on payments or in collections. It is also an indicator of their debt-to-income ratio, an important factor when considering someone for tenancy.

A credit check also looks at previous rental payment history, which can provide valuable information about how likely the tenant is to pay rent on time. It will also show if they have had any previous evictions and whether or not they are a high-risk tenant.

A comprehensive credit check will include other factors such as employment history, references from previous landlords, and even a criminal background check.

How to Prepare for a Background Check

Before you run a background check, knowing the laws that protect tenants in your area is important. Generally speaking, credit and background checks are legal if you have written permission from your tenant to conduct one.

Ensure your rental application outlines all the information you may look into when running a background check, including credit history, criminal history, and employment or rental histories.

Once you have permission from your tenant to run a background check, you should prepare the necessary documents and materials needed. This includes organizing any information provided by the tenant on their rental application and gathering your forms for requesting credit reports and other background checks. It's also important to keep all of the documents and information in a secure place.

With all your materials ready, you have everything you need to start running background checks on potential tenants. This process may seem daunting at first, but with the right preparation and research into tenant laws, you can ensure your rental property is well-protected and that you select an ideal tenant for your rental space.

Other Data Sources for Your Tenant Screening

In addition to credit checks, other data sources can be used in tenant screening.

This includes:

  • Tenant history: Commonly referred to as a "history report" or "background check," this information includes an applicant's rental history from previous landlords, such as past payment records and any evictions that might have occurred.
  • Criminal record: A thorough screening of an applicant's criminal history is often used to determine if they are suitable for living in the rental property.
  • Public records: This includes information such as bankruptcies, liens, judgments, and other public filings that may reveal financial issues or other relevant information about the tenant.


How do I find a good tenant?

Finding a good tenant is an important part of managing rental property. A thorough screening process enables landlords to evaluate potential tenants' ability and willingness to pay rent on time, maintain the property, and respect community rules. Credit checks are one tool that can help landlords make informed decisions when considering prospective tenants.

How do I credit-check a tenant?

A credit check reviews an individual's financial history and creditworthiness. Landlords can conduct a background search through one of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. When running a tenant credit check, landlords must provide the potential tenant's full name, social security number, address, and date of birth.

How do I screen a tenant?

Tenant screening evaluates prospective tenants' past and current personal and financial information to make informed decisions about their rental application. In addition to credit checks, landlords may also consider other factors such as employment history, criminal background, references from previous landlords, eviction records, rental affordability, and more.


When deciding on the best screening process for your rental property, it is important to consider all the risks and benefits associated with credit reports. While they can provide an invaluable tool for information about potential tenants, they can also lead to discrimination if used inappropriately. Select a tenant screening provider that provides access to comprehensive databases and utilizes best practices when reviewing applications.

Latest Posts
Copyright 2019 - 2024