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Screening Your Renters With Insight From D.C. Association Property Management

EJF Real Estate Services - Thursday, June 25, 2020


The importance of tenant screening is something not to be taken for granted—especially during the times we find ourselves in as a community at this very moment. We have collectively battled our way through a pandemic and gone through serious economic turmoil. Now, we find that we are standing on the precipice of great change in the District of Columbia.

Amid a time of such collective unity—and yet, such social distance—it can be a challenge for property owners and tenants to bond in a meaningful way. It is equally as difficult for newly-minted landlords to find reliable renters even in placid times—more so now, when so much seems uncertain.

During such moments, we consider it imperative as part of our role as a long-standing expert in D.C. association property management to remind property owners that now is the time when they must be at their most diligent in how they approach their current and future rental relationships. This includes how you approach your screening process.

You may be wondering why we bring this up now, but the answer is simple: as a rental property owner, you cannot afford to apply different standards in how you screen any potential applicant. It is advantageous, then, that complying with a predetermined set of screening protocols for every applicant benefits you! Today we'll explore the reasons why.

As a note: This post is not a substitute for proper legal counsel. When in doubt, it's best to reach out to a professional Washington D.C. association property management company or to obtain guidance from a skilled attorney. 

Delivery of medical equipment to the hospital People in protective suits hand over boxes

Take Your Time to Find the Right Renter

When you have a property available in a market like D.C., the last thing you want to do is simply approve an applicant based on their interest and your need for cash. Not only is this not ideal for you as a property owner, but it also neglects the diligence of other applicants in the materials they provide and comes across as bias—whether intentional or otherwise.

Instead, you should be putting a fair amount of work into determining if the application you have before you is legitimate. To do this, you should have a predetermined set of screening criteria that you apply to every potential renter. Ultimately, this greatly reduces the risk you face as a property owner that may otherwise occur should you fail to have some form of process in place.

If you're wondering precisely which risks we're referring to, here; failing to follow through as a landlord with the same set of standards applied to every prospective tenant could put you on the wrong side of some very powerful federal legislation—most of which happen to end with "A."

As your guide to D.C. association property management, we'd hate to see this happen to property owners who were simply unaware of the dangers of poor screening procedures. For this reason, we always recommend that you work with a qualified third-party screening service or take advantage of the many benefits of property management when placing a new renter into your property.

Rely on the Professionals for Your Screening Policies

One of the best things you can do as a property owner from the start is to work with a skilled and local property management provider to guide you through the screening process. Not only will a property manager be proficient in the legal logistics of such a venture, but they will understand how to complete the entire process as efficiently as possible. Essentially, your property management partner also shields you from the additional liability that undertaking your own screening process would represent.

Rather than having to examine each variable concerning your prospects alone, you have an expert who can piece together the details of each applicant and determine whether they meet your supplied criteria. You gain an ally who is there to help you protect your property from the dangers of a Professional Tenant—while still preventing potential discrimination against an applicant.

You may not be an expert in separating red flags from a one-time mistake—but a devoted property management professional will be. They'll also have an understanding of how to handle delicate scenarios like the differences between a service animal and an emotional support animal. If you're not certain how those two differ, tally a point for professional D.C. association property management services.

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Regardless of the Route, Choose Wisely

Whether you still plan to undertake the screening process on your own or work with a qualified professional, the key is to be sure you still screen every renter, regardless. This protects your interests and theirs—a balance that works for everyone involved.

The relationship you have with your renters should always be mutually beneficial if you expect your business—and your income—to survive. You are providing a service: the use of your excellent rental property in the nation's capital. In return, your renter provides you with the income you need to continue operating successfully.

During any crisis, continuing to screen your prospective renters with the same level of care you would use outside of a disaster can help ensure this positive relationship remains a reality by preventing bias. If you're considering the rapid placement of a rental applicant because you're feeling pressured by your expenses, consult us before making any sudden decisions. As a fixture in the D.C. community, we have the expertise you need to guide you through such times together.

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