Over time, it's tough for investors not to develop personal preferences towards one type of renter. Maybe your most easy-going tenants are a specific age, or you have a better, more natural relationship with tenants from a particular background. If you're a female investor, you may simple feel more comfortable renting to other women.
It's tempting to use your preferences when it comes to the future placement of your residents. However, there are significant reasons why management companies in Orlando will tell you that creating these kinds of patterns and using them to "screen" tenants is very harmful.
Let's take a look at why it's dangerous to approach your prospective renters from your personal preferences—and how professional Orlando property management handles tenant screening and placement.
This article is intended to enhance your understanding of the screening procedure as an investor; the following should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you need further assistance, get in touch with the best property management Orlando has to offer!
The Fair Housing Act and Your Orlando Rentals
The biggest reason you have to handle your screening and placement process without your opinion in the mix is The Fair Housing Act of 1968, which makes it illegal to discriminate based on the following categories:
- National Origin
- Familial Status.
This also includes children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and potential renters in the middle of securing custody. If you prefer your tenants to be above a certain age, this is also a protected class under the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. Selecting your tenants based on these criteria is illegal.
Your future residents cannot help that they share a gender, age, or religion with former tenants who have caused you trouble. When you select your renters based on the past, you narrow your prospective pool of renters and put any applicant at a disadvantage based on something they cannot control. For example, no matter how much trouble you may have had in the past with male tenants, you have to continue to evaluate male tenant applicants the same way you would a female renter.
With that in mind, what can investors do to protect themselves and their rentals? Here's some insight into the issue direct from an expert in Orlando property management.
You Can't Discriminate—but You Can Evaluate
There are warning signs and red flags that could indicate a troublesome tenant that don't depend on any of the protected classes listed above. Instead, they are related to documented past choices and behaviors.
For instance, you can choose not to rent to someone because:
- Their past landlords give you feedback that mentions late payments or disruptive behavior
- They have pets (service animals and emotional support animals are exempt) you don't want to accept in your rental property
- The background check and credit history investigation reveal that your potential renter can't consistently afford the price of the rent.
Making your choice based on factors within your tenant's control help you run a better rental business. If you've had male tenants trash and destroy one of your rentals in the past, any Downtown Orlando property management company will tell you that you don't just stop renting to male tenants! You check all your tenant applicants for a history of not paying the rent.
Yes, it can be tempting to only rent to demographics that you feel connected to or that look and behave like others you've worked well with in the past. However, if you take it from the perspective of someone different from yourself, imagine the frustration of being distrusted before you even have a chance to prove yourself as a renter.
Imagine being unable to get excellent housing in Orlando, even if your background check, credit reports, and landlord rental history are clean and clear. Ultimately, the criteria we just mentioned are a more important indicator of how well your tenant will treat your rental. They're also the reason that a thorough screening process is crucial to begin with.
Putting Your Screening Policy Through Its Paces
So how do you accomplish a thorough screening based on the above factors?
- Keep in mind that your screening process is your first line of defense for your Orlando rental properties.
- Your screening policy is designed to help support the terms outlined in your lease.
- When building your screening process, use proven resources that help you craft a bias-free approach from the start.
You may still exercise discretion throughout the process or make notes. However, if you structure your screening policy based on what has already worked for Orlando property management in the past, you are more likely to get a good selection of candidates without the risk of discrimination.
With a little work, you'll zero in on what matters:
- Did you catch your applicant in a lie about their income?
- Did the reference come back with multiple citations for loud behavior that disturbed the neighbors?
- Does the prospect have a pet with a history of violence or aggression?
As you grow the number of properties you have in your portfolio over time; you'll be better at spotting these red flag discrepancies that indicate you may want to move on to the next tenant.
Of course, screening your rental applicants is only one component of growing a successful real estate portfolio! At Verandah Properties, an expert in Orlando realty and property management, we know that the development of your portfolio is multi-faceted—but still interconnected. When you've course-corrected your screening process, it's worth evaluating other elements of your properties' lifecycles to determine if you're missing crucial strategies that fuel growth.
An easy way to get started is to download your FREE copy of our real estate investing guide from the best property management Orlando has to offer! If you're interested in growing your long-term wealth through the diversity only real estate can provide, then this guide is for Orlando investors like you!