In a still-shaky economy, landlords can be torn between quickly signing the lease on a vacant property and finding the perfect renter with thorough tenant screening
. However, there are still a few critical steps that landlords should take to protect against a bad tenant, asset protection lawyer Harry Jones writes for FloridaToday.com. Perhaps most important is to know the potential tenant, Jones says. Ask for references and the phone numbers of former landlords. Order a credit report - after getting permission from the applicant - and consider a criminal background screening
if renting a residential space. When renting commercial property, be sure to get a personal guarantee from the business owner and his or her spouse, if possible. Obtain a solid lease agreement, and consider having a real estate attorney or property manager look it over. Landlords should also create a set of criteria for determining what clears a lease applicant, writes Peter Giardini for the Bigger Pockets Blog. Those qualifiers could include having an income that is three times the rent, a credit score higher than 600 or a having a record clear of rent court convictions. Once a landlord has laid out the criteria that are allowed under local law, be sure to apply them consistently, Giardini says.