A Landlords Guide to Florida Tenant Screening (2023)
Florida remains the most popular state for renters in recent years. Because of this, landlords like you have a plethora of potential tenants to choose from, but you need to make sure you pick the right ones from the options. So, how can you ensure the people you rent to are going to have a positive impact on your investment?
This article will run through the steps required to enact a Florida tenant screening process. As you read through, think about the best way to perform each step to make sure you look at the right areas of a person’s history and do so legally.
Run a Background Check
The first step you might need to take is to run a tenant background check in Florida to ensure the person is who they say they are. When you do this, you will need to ask for a lot of data to ensure the check is as accurate as possible. This will include their:
- Full legal name
- Social security number
- Contact information
- Current and previous employment data
- Contact data for prior landlords
- Prior addresses and moving dates
- Signed permission to run a background check
- Personal and professional references
This will entail a long process that can be very complex. If this is too much, depending on the number of properties you have, you might want to investigate tenant screening services in Florida. They will often have a speedy process to run background checks, raise red flags, and inform you of the results in a summarized fashion.
Be aware, though, that Florida tenant screening laws limit the information you can get from a background check. So do not be surprised if you cannot learn everything. Again, a screening service will ensure they do not collect this information to give you a level of legal safety and help you avoid liability.
Run the Applicant’s Credit
One of the first lessons when it comes to learning how to find good tenants is to figure out what information in a person’s credit check is relevant. First of all, you will want to look for a high credit score, suggesting they make timely payments to cover any debt they have.
You also want to ensure they are responsible with their lines of credit. Bad tenants often have unstable credit due to irresponsible spending. As you will want stability in the finances of anyone who lives in your rental, you may want to deny anyone who falls foul of this.
If the potential tenant also has any previous outstanding debts or bankruptcies, you will see these in a credit check. Use these to determine if the person is the right fit for your property.
Talk to the Renter’s References
Discussing the renter with their references can give you valuable insights you may not be able to get elsewhere. These act as a form of qualitative data and ensure you can figure out how to find good tenants based on their previous experiences.
If a potential renter offers you contacts who cannot give you much insight, there is every chance they are bad tenants. The tenant might be hiding their real past from you or might have not worked well with others when they got close to them.
With a risky tenant, their references might also be limited. This is because their closest friends might not be the type of people they would want to put on a reference. This should tell you everything you need to know about the type of visitors they might have.
Check Previous and Current Employment
With the information the tenant has offered you, dig into their employment history. Contact each of their previous employers and ask how well they performed and their general attitude over time. Although be aware that depending on the workplace, some companies may only be able to offer you confirmation of when they worked.
You will want to check that not only the company they worked for was correct, but also their listed role and how much they made. If what they said was not accurate, you will want to question them as to why and think about if they can afford your property.
When evaluating their job, also think about how stable their role was. Did they switch jobs frequently, and why? If they continued to move up a ladder by switching roles, this is much better than if it was because were fired from multiple roles.
Look Into Previous Residences
Much like when checking their employment references, you will want to learn how to screen tenants by talking to their prior landlords. Ask them when the person moved in and out of the residence, although be aware you may not be able to ask why depending on screening laws.
Florida Tenant Screening Laws
When running a tenant background check in Florida, remember that several different laws limit what you can know.
If you are unsure about what to check for, you can always investigate tenant screening services in Florida to do this for you. They will already know the ins and outs of such a system and will be able to help you avoid liability.
You might want to be aware of some of the following:
Federal Fair Housing Act
This act tries to ensure that tenants receive protection from potential discrimination based on a variety of factors. The best way to adhere to the Florida Fair Housing Act is to treat every applicant in the same way, including during your screening process.
FCRA Law 2023
The FCRA law 2023 limits what you can learn about someone through credit checks. Ensure you keep any tenant’s credit information secret, and understand that any credit check agency also has to follow these rules.
Speed Up Your Florida Tenant Screening
By following the above advice on Florida tenant screening, you should have few problems in working out if a tenant is the right fit for you. Still, this can entail a lot of work, and having a large portfolio of properties can mean this takes up a huge amount of time. For this reason, you might want to look into a Florida tenant screening service.
We can enact a tenant background check in Florida so you can handle the more important areas of your landlord role. All you need to do is contact us and we can let you know what we can take off your hands today.