DAVE RAMSEY: Make the right choice in choosing renters

By Dave Ramsey

Q. I’m a landlord in New York, and I’ve always felt it’s not a good idea to rely entirely on previous landlords for referrals on prospective tenants. Do you have any tips for selecting good renters?
A. I think you’re on the right track. Most landlords aren’t thorough enough with the screening process. You can’t get to know people without spending some time with them and digging into their personalities and backgrounds a little.
I have several rental properties, and I have a few tricks that work well for me.
First, I always pull a credit bureau report on prospective renters. I also get a big deposit up front. I spend quite a bit of time talking to them one on one, as well, so with all this they’d have to be a pretty good con artist to get past me.
Another thing I do is to drive by the place they’re currently living. I like to see what condition the house is in and if they keep the yard maintained. To me, this is a great indication of how responsible they are and how they would treat my property. It’s not a bad idea to get some proof of them having made previous rental payments on time, either.
In some ways it’s a leap of faith any time you sign an agreement with a new tenant. But there are things you can do in order to make a more informed decision as to whom you’re doing business with. And who knows? Many renters appreciate knowing they have a landlord who handles things in a professional manner. Maybe these suggestions will help you both feel a little more at ease.
Dave Ramsey has authored four New York Times best-selling books, and “The Dave Ramsey Show” is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.