Revisiting your tenant selection criteria to update it with new laws and make sure that it is as solid as possible to protect yourself as best you can for the worst case scenario is needed in today litigious society.
First off, you have to follow the criteria that the lawmakers decide you should adopt, in my home state of Oregon these include;
It is now illegal to consider an eviction if it was 5 years ago or more.
Crimes that warrant rejection are limited to: sex offense, person crime, drug-related crimes, crimes involving financial fraud, and any other crime that would affect the health or safety of other tenants, the landlord, or property manager.
A landlord may charge an application fee but it is limited to the actual costs to obtain the tenant screening reports. In addition, the landlord must have a written tenant screening criteria, and the tenant must be provided with: A receipt, notice of the amount, copy of the landlord’s screening criteria along with the typical process that is followed i.e. where data is pulled from. Of course the landlord is also required to abide by the provisions of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If a landlord does not comply with these rules, a penalty of $150 plus twice the amount of the application fee collected can be awarded to the tenant.
The Landlord must disclose the rent and deposit amount as well as whether or not the tenant is required to purchase renters insurance. As well as a list of other available properties with an estimated number of applicants.
With all of those decisions made for us in Oregon there are just a few more criteria that should be considered.
Having a no smoking policy at rental properties is pretty common because of the damage it does to the interior of the home. In addition many multi-unit properties have a no smoking policy outside the residence as well as inside to ensure the other residence can enjoy there apartment.
The properties that allow pets can charge a premium for the rent and requiring and additional pet deposit is advisable. Renting to someone who has a breed of dog that is not covered by homeowners insurance such as the popular pit bull is a liability.
Number of Occupants
Keeping the number of occupants limited to two/bedroom will reduce damage to the property. The more people you have in your home the more wear and tear the property receives.
An income to debt ratio below 30% and a requirement that income is 2.5 X s there gross income is recommended
Acceptable Credit Score Range
With the housing market crash and the downturn of the economy You may have had to rethink your payment and collections history acceptability. I used to say a minimum score of 650 but since so many people have lost there homes to foreclosure or lost there jobs I’ve had to analyze the report more carefully and look at delinquent payments in the last 6 months.
If a prospective tenant gets a poor review by an employer or past landlord it may be a bad idea to rent to them. I have found that the majority of people don’t want to talk poorly about someone else so if you get negative feedback that is a bad sign.
You should note that in other jurisdictions, pet deposits are not legal. For instance, Massachusetts prohibits collecting an additional pet deposit or a security deposit higher than one month’s rent. However, they do allow landlords to increase the monthly rent if a tenant owns a pet. In other locales the reverse is true (rent cannot be increased but pet deposits are permitted).
Thanks for the comment Erin. That’s interesting, and a good reminder to always check your local state’s laws.