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Looking Beyond the Credit Score for Great Washington Tenants

Tenant Signing a Lease for a Washington Rental HomeFinding a quality tenant is one of the essential parts of owning a profitable Washington rental home.

For certain landlords, the “right tenant” is somebody with an impeccable credit score. They settle their tenant approval choices dependent on the idea that great credit history is a promise of a financially stable future. While credit scores are important, they don’t tell the whole story. Realizing different areas to search for when screening applicants can help recognize great tenants right away.

When screening rental applicants, property owners are right to want to know more about the tenant’s financial situation. A credit report can give a good deal of knowledge past a simple credit score, data that an owner can use to build a decision if the tenant is likely able to fully complete their rental payments and on schedule. For example, late payments on an account that is now current can bring a credit score down but also shows the applicant is now paying their bills on time.

While a past vehicle repossession or a credit card charge-off could be a major concern for a few property owners, it’s imperative to remember that many people were hit quite hard by the Great Recession. Through no blame of their own, they have lost their jobs or homes, but have since recovered and got themselves a new job and maintained their credit accounts well. Or, it could also be due to a past medical emergency that they’ve fallen behind on their medical bills or student loans, but they’ve made good financial choices since then. In these situations, the score might be a less important factor than the tenant’s payment history over time. A few mistakes many years ago should not disqualify an otherwise solid applicant.

To get the complete picture, it’s important to accumulate as much information from the applicant that is not on the credit report itself. If the prospective tenant has a genuine basis for their lower credit score, such as those listed above, that may be a motivation to keep them under consideration. Also, property owners should always supplement an applicant’s credit report with references who can speak to their potential. If an applicant has a strong history of paying rent on time and a stable income, these factors may be better indicators of how they would do as a tenant than numbers on a credit report.

Tenant screening can be an involved process, especially for single-family rental homes in Washington. Property owners generally want someone who will be a stable, long-term tenant, making the decision an even more critical one. At Real Property Management Southern Utah, we perform a thorough screening on every applicant, from credit reports and beyond. Our property management professionals know what to look for, and how to choose the right tenant for every rental property we manage. If you would like to learn more about our screening process or would like to speak to someone, please contact us online or by phone at 435-673-4242.

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