I recently read a Q&A article regarding rental properties.  The owner of a rental property asked if a low credit score was enough reason to decline a tenant applicant.

This is an interesting question and I thought about the many applicants we have seen in the past several years that were honest and disclosed that their report would probably come back showing a low credit score.  Many families have experienced financial difficulties such as bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sales on their homes and health related  issues which have negatively effected their credit scores. In fact, I think we have only seen three applications which have been above a 700 credit score in the past five years.

The tenant screening process contains several different elements including a background, criminal and eviction check.  The eviction check will screen court records and report if the tenant applicant has ever had an eviction filed against them.  We also verify employment and confirm the ratio between their proposed rental payment and their gross monthly income.  Another critical component in our application screening is to verify a tenant’s previous rental history with the former landlord(s).

The entire screening process and pieces of information are so important to review with rental property owners.   Positive reports and reviews can offset a low credit score in many cases. It can be better to leave a rental property vacant for a few extra weeks then to spend months evicting a bad tenant.

Once we have the home rented then it is equally important for owners to maintain the property and respond quickly to maintenance calls.  When we receive maintenance requests from tenants then we manage the communication between tenants and owners and schedule vendors as needed.  By showing a tenant that you care about the house then they will most likely take better care of it too.

We like to describe the tenant screening process to both owners and tenant applicants so they know what to expect.  We obtain the complete screening package and review the information with the owner.  Positive information and the tenant’s complete explanation can certainly offset a low credit score in most cases.