This time of year is financially tough on most people. As a landlord, you may be tempted to give possible tenants a break. By screening only one applicant (instead of each adult on the application) the screening fee is greatly reduced, but so then, is your security. This seemingly small moment of generosity quickly turns into an overwhelming problem.

Let’s just look at the facts:

  • If your possible tenant is having trouble paying a screening fee, they are probably going to have trouble paying you rent.
  • If your tenants get to pick and choose who among them get screened, then it is very easy to hide a criminal record or bad credit.
  • If you are selective about whom you screen and to what degree, you are opening yourself up to a possible Fair Housing lawsuit.
At RSI we advise all of our clients to screen each person over the age of 18 who will be residing on the property. That means that on any given application you would screen each person in a married couple, all roommates and any adult children. A consistently applied screening practice is the key factor in vetting nightmare tenants and avoiding a possible lawsuit.

When moved toward generosity, consider options that won’t leave you unprotected. Offer your tenants a discount on the first month’s rent if they pass your screening standards and are invited to sign a lease. Or you may want to welcome tenants to the community and draw attention to local attractions by giving gift cards to local stores and restaurants. It is in this way that you will be able to rest easy…assured that the best possible tenants are living on your property…and those tenants do not feel plowed under by screening fees.

For more information on best screening practices visit the Rental Services, Inc. website at:

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