Screening Tenants: How to Find the Right Fit for Your Property

As a landlord, finding the right tenant for your property is not only important for the maintenance of your investment but also for your peace of mind. A thorough screening process can help you identify potential issues and ensure that your property is in good hands. Here are some tips to help you find the right fit for your property.

Check Their Credit Score

When requesting a credit check from a credit bureau, it’s important to obtain the tenant’s written consent first. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires landlords to obtain written permission from tenants before pulling their credit reports. Additionally, be aware of any local or state laws that govern the use of credit checks in the tenant screening process.

It’s important to keep in mind that a low credit score doesn’t necessarily mean that the tenant won’t be a good tenant. Life circumstances, such as a medical emergency or job loss, can impact a person’s credit score. Therefore, when evaluating a tenant’s credit score, it’s important to consider the whole picture and not just focus on the number.

Overall, checking a tenant’s credit score is an important step in the screening process, but it should be used in conjunction with other screening criteria to make an informed decision. 

Verify Their Income

Verifying a tenant’s income is an important step in the tenant screening process. When a tenant applies to rent your property, they should provide you with proof of income such as recent pay stubs or bank statements. This documentation should show their regular income and help you determine if the tenant will be able to afford the monthly rent payments.

It is also important to verify that the tenant’s income is stable and reliable. You can ask for additional documentation such as a letter from their employer confirming their employment status or a copy of their employment contract. This will help you determine if the tenant’s income is likely to continue in the future, giving you confidence that they will be able to pay rent on time and in full.

By verifying a tenant’s income, you can avoid potential financial issues down the line. For example, if a tenant’s income is not sufficient to cover the rent, they may fall behind on payments or struggle to make ends meet. This could result in the tenant breaking the lease agreement, which can be a costly and time-consuming process to resolve.

Overall, verifying a tenant’s income is an important aspect of the tenant screening process that can help you find a reliable tenant who is likely to take good care of your property and pay rent on time. 

Check Their References

Checking a potential tenant’s references can provide valuable insight into their past behavior and reliability as a renter. It is important to ask for references from both previous landlords and employers, as these individuals can speak to the tenant’s ability to pay rent on time and maintain the property, as well as their work ethic and responsibility.

When contacting references, it is important to ask specific questions about the tenant’s behavior and reliability. For example, you can ask if the tenant consistently paid rent on time, if they caused any damage to the property, or if they violated any terms of their lease agreement. You can also ask if there were any complaints from neighbors or if the tenant caused any disturbances.

It is important to keep in mind that personal references provided by the tenant may be biased, so it is generally more reliable to focus on references from previous landlords and employers. However, personal references can still provide additional insight into the tenant’s character and can be useful in evaluating their overall suitability as a renter.

Overall, checking a potential tenant’s references is an important step in the screening process, as it can help you avoid renting to someone who has a history of causing problems or failing to meet their obligations as a tenant.

Conduct a Background Check

A background check can uncover any criminal history, evictions, or other red flags that may make the tenant unsuitable for your property. You can hire a professional screening company to conduct the check, or you can do it yourself using online resources. A background check is an important step to ensure that your potential tenant has a good track record and doesn’t pose a risk to your property or other tenants in the building. It can reveal important information such as whether they have a history of damaging property, engaging in illegal activity, or not paying rent on time.

To conduct a background check, you can start by asking the tenant for their consent to perform the check. You can then hire a professional screening company to run a comprehensive check, or you can use online resources such as public records databases or social media profiles to gather information. Keep in mind that there are legal requirements for conducting a background check, so it’s important to follow the regulations in your area.

If the background check reveals any concerning information, you may want to reconsider renting to the tenant. However, it’s important to evaluate each case on an individual basis and to give the tenant a chance to explain any red flags that may have come up. Ultimately, the decision to rent to a tenant with a questionable background is up to you as the landlord, but it’s important to make an informed decision based on all available information.

Get professionals to assist

A rental property agent, such as those working for Fitzanne Estates, can also help you navigate the legal requirements and regulations surrounding tenant screening. In South Africa, there are laws in place that protect tenants from discrimination, so it’s important to know what you can and can’t ask potential tenants during the screening process. A rental property agent will be well-versed in these laws and can ensure that you are following the correct procedures.

Additionally, a rental property agent can provide valuable insights into the rental market and rental rates in your area. They can help you set a fair rental price for your property and advise you on any necessary improvements or upgrades that may be needed to attract the right tenants. They can also handle any maintenance or repair issues that arise during the tenancy, saving you time and hassle.

Overall, working with a rental property agent is a smart choice for any landlord looking to find the right tenant for their property. It can save you time, money, and stress, and give you peace of mind knowing that your investment is in good hands.

In conclusion, tenant screening is a critical aspect of being a landlord in South Africa. By considering the “who, what, where, when, and why” of tenant screening, you can find the right tenant for your property and ensure that your investment remains well-maintained. Checking a tenant’s credit score, verifying their income, checking their references, conducting a background check, and trusting your gut are all important steps in the screening process. And remember, working with a rental property agent can make the process easier and more efficient.

Contact Fitzanne Estates today to learn more about how we can help you find the perfect tenant for your property.

Read more: 

How to spot a good investment property in South Africa

How To Deal with Late Rent Payments in South Africa

Different types of property ownership in South Africa

Media contact: Cathlen Fourie, +27 82 222 9198,

More about Fitzanne Estates

Fitzanne Estates (Pty) Ltd is a Property Management Company that can sufficiently administer your property investment to the benefit of the Landlord, the Body Corporate, and the NPC – a Non-Profit Company. Services include Letting, Sectional Title Management, Full Title Management (NPC – Non-Profit Company), and Sales.


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