More people are becoming landlords, whether because they are interested in investing in real estate, or because they need to lease a home they cannot sell. Lack of landlord experience often leads to mistakes that can be very costly. From choosing the wrong appliances or flooring to choosing the wrong tenants, it’s important to have the information you need to make sound decisions for your rental business. And, even if you only have one rental property, it’s still a business!

Arguably the most important decision you’ll make regarding your rental property is who will live in it. Choosing the best tenants isn’t always easy, but going through all of the required steps is imperative. That includes tenant screening. If you’re wondering why you should conduct tenant screening, here are some reasons that should convince you.

  1. “Professional tenants”: These are folks who know how to scam landlords, scam the system and live for months without paying any rent at all. Beware if you have a tenant who offers several months of rent upfront instead of good references. You might be tempted to skip the tenant screening in return, but professional tenants will not pay any additional rent—ever.
  2. False identity: More people are concealing their real identities, with authentic-looking photo IDs. If you fail to run a thorough tenant screening, you won’t know to whom you’re actually leasing. And you can’t help but wonder what they’re hiding in their past.
  3. Lying on lease applications: Many would-be tenants who want to live in your property hope you won’t check their references. They enter false information , from former addresses to former employers, on their lease applications. Checking references is the only way you’ll really know what kind of person they are.
  4. Slow job market: Stagnant wages, rising cost of living and rising rents are combining to make more people have a hard time paying for housing. It’s tough, but you’re not doing yourself any good if you lease to a tenant who can’t pay the rent.
  5. Protecting your property and other tenants: Perhaps the most important reason for tenant background checks is to screen out people with serious criminal records. Do you really want someone who has been convicted for assault, drug dealing or sex crimes living in your rental property? What is the potential liability if you don’t screen tenants and someone harms another resident? Do you want to risk having a criminal element in your property?

New landlords are particularly vulnerable to scam artists and dishonest people. Tenant screening will quickly give you the peace of mind you need and help ensure you’re leasing to the best possible tenant. It’s worth your time to find a tenant who has a good job, pays rent on time and causes no trouble!