Quick Guide to Effective Tenant Screening in Austin

Once you have a pool of prospective renters in Austin, the next stage is to screen them. Screening tenants is one of the most important pieces of being a landlord . This phase should not be skipped just to earn a rental income right away. You need to find out whether the tenants you’ll welcome to your property are the right fit.

One of the most important skills to learn as a landlord is learning how to identify quality renters. They’re the ones that make timely payments and practice reasonable maintenance of your Austin unit.

Here are the 5 characteristics that distinguish quality tenants from others:

  1. Able to meet the rent.
  2. Employed in a stable job.
  3. Promptly paid the rent historically.
  4. Responsible for carrying out tenant duties.

Screening Tenants

Prior to conducting the tenant screening process, you must already know the minimum criteria you expect from a tenant. You can then tailor your procedure to make it easy to pick someone that can match the standards you have in mind. Be sure that your screening process abides by the Fair Housing Act .

The first thing you can do is perform a pre-screening. This means creating a list of your requirements, focusing on key questions when you talk to prospects, and then meeting them for a property showing in Austin. The purpose of pre-screening is it makes it easy to notice red flags right away so you can save time.

Reviewing a Rental Application

The rental application that you created should provide spaces for an applicant’s contact information, present residence address and landlord’s name and contact details, previous residence or rental history that includes the landlord’s name and contact details, present and former employers, job title, salary, employment length and references with contact information.


Lastly, you need to ask for credit and background check authorization. It’s important to learn about the income level of a tenant. Typically, it should be at least 3x the rent rate. But you can allow exceptions depending on other factors, too. After you finish this stage, you can move on to contacting references and conducting credit and background checking.

Verifying Tenant Income and Employment

Verifying your prospects’ employment information is vital to see if they’re being transparent with how much they’re earning. You can then match this to what the references reveal. Desperate renters may fake their references but there are ways to know if a potential renter is telling the truth.

The right time to contact an applicant’s employer is after the rental application form is submitted. You can do this right away to filter the prospects and move on should the applicant fail to meet the income requirement.

A great way to verify with a prospect’s employer can depend on the company’s policy. Some will require an email to a designated email address or will need you to contact a designated phone number for employment verification. You can perform an online search on how a company deals with this process.

Critical Questions to Ask Former Landlords

It’s advisable to reach out to an applicant’s present and former landlord. There may be times that the current landlords may not be honest, simply to remove the renter from their rental homes.


Previous landlords, however, would not have any hidden agenda and will reveal if the potential tenant is known for delaying or skipping rental dues, creating a public disturbance, or leaving properties with damages.

Another way that prospects can misinform a landlord is to assign a friend or family member to act as a landlord. You can avoid this by inquiring about a vacant unit initially to gauge the reaction before asking about the applicant’s rental background.

Critical Questions to Ask Employers

Whatever the verification process is, it’s important to learn from an employer if your prospective Austin renter can meet the rent payment by asking for the following information:

  • Confirmation of a renter’s employment period.
  • The job role of the renter.
  • Salary range of the renter.
  • Sense of responsibility of the renter as an employee.

Keep your expectations low since some will only reveal the status of the renter’s employment and the employment period.

If the tenant’s employer refuses to reply or furnish answers to inquiries, you can check on the renters’ credit report to ascertain their financial health. Running a detailed tenant screening in Austin allows you to find out from various valid sources of information to help you determine if the tenant can meet the rental due payments.


If you discover that a fake reference has been submitted, you can check online or find out more information. It can’t be helped that you’ll experience getting fake references at times. You can proceed to reject the applicant who has provided false information.

Analyzing Tenant Credit Reports and Background Checks

It’s important to find out about these crucial things when checking for a prospect’s background.

  • Credit score.
  • Prior evictions.
  • Complete account history.
  • Social security number verification.
  • National sex offender check.

You can decide if the credit score is adequate once you look at an applicant’s overall case.

Deciding to Accept or Reject a Prospect’s Application

Once you’ve finished doing the above steps, it’s time to decide whether to accept or deny a tenant’s application for your Austin rental. If you say yes, then you can call or email. Don’t forget to inform the applicant about the next step, which is lease signing.

If you say no, then you can write or email the applicant. This can be proof of your rejection. Make the note straightforward. You don’t have to reveal any reason unless the applicant directly asks. Your reason must be legally valid and must not breach the Fair Housing Laws.

Denying applicants based on gender, religion, race, and other factors is not acceptable. It’s fair to reject an application for solid reasons such as insufficient income or a low credit score.

Bottom Line

As a property investor, your Austin rental home is an asset you should protect. Reduce your stress by performing a proper tenant screening which will hopefully result in long term tenants . Here at Rollingwood Management INC , we can help with all aspects of property management. We collect rent, maintain the property, advertise your rental, and of course screen tenants.

We can help you learn everything you need to know! Get in touch to learn more!

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