Vetting tenants is essential to any landlord’s success. But if you’re just starting to rent out your property, you want to take every possible step to ensure your first tenant experience goes smoothly. Avoid needless calls to your property lawyer by ensuring you only accept responsible renters. The screening process below can help protect your interests. 

5 Steps for Evaluating New Renters

1. Create an Application

Your property lawyer can help you draft up an application with all the necessary fields for information, including basic employment information, financial standings, and personal references. You can also ask for the names and contact information of former landlords.

2. Do a Background Check

A background check can usually be ordered using a person’s social security number. In addition to a criminal record, scan public records for relevant legal battles. For instance, a tenant who was sued for unpaid child support or involved in a similar financial matter might not be a great bet. Any records of evictions or similar dealings with property lawyers are also a red flag. 

3. Check Credit History

property lawyerA credit check will give you details on a potential tenant’s financial history dating back seven to ten years. Look for late payments, collection accounts, or major issues like bankruptcy. Also be wary of significant debt in the form of maxed-out credit cards, unpaid balances, and hefty loans.

4. Talk to References

When you call a prospective tenant’s references, inquire why the tenant left and whether they made timely payments. Also, ask if they still owe any money.

5. Conduct an Interview

Assuming your potential tenant passes the above evaluation criteria, you can invite them for a personal interview. This is a good opportunity to get to know more about their lifestyle—for instance, whether they smoke, have pets, or plan on getting a roommate. 


Even with appropriate screening, landlord-tenant disputes requiring the assistance of a property lawyer may arise. Penoyar Law Offices can help. Located in South Bend, WA, this law firm serves Pacific County and the surrounding areas with an array of legal services. Their dedicated team of attorneys brings more than 100 years of combined experience to the table. Find out more about their practice areas, from real estate law to estate planning, online. For an appointment with a property lawyer, call (360) 875-5321.