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Things to Consider When Selecting a Residential Tenant in Rhode Island

Experienced landlords understand what is at stake when selecting a tenant for a residential rental property. Choosing the right tenant can make a landlord’s life extremely easy, and signing a lease with the wrong tenant can be expensive, stressful, and leave you with a damaged property or legal problems. Because the Rhode Island rental market is favorable for landlords at this time, a property will usually have multiple interested tenants, and landlords can thoughtfully choose who to offer the property to. A recently published landlord resource discusses some items to consider in selecting a tenant.

To effectively start the tenant selection process, landlords should set the right criteria in the rental listing, to screen out undesirable tenants. Most importantly, the tenant should make sufficient income, or have a co-signer that does, in order to pay the desired amount of rent. Certain criminal convictions can be screened for by the listing, and issues like smoking or pets should also be discussed. A listing should also note that a credit check and background check will be performed.

After a tenant reviews the listing and shows interest in a property, the parties should meet to show the premises. A showing is as much for the landlord to evaluate the possible tenant as it is for the tenant to evaluate the property. At the showing, a landlord should ask the prospective tenant about their current living situation, why they are moving, and when they would like to move in. Issues such as credit, smoking, and pets can be discussed if they were not brought up over the phone. Additionally, the landlord can get an idea of the tenants’ employment and lifestyle. If a tenant fails to show up or is very late to a showing, gives suspicious answers to questions about their past, or refuses to fill out an application and submit to a credit or background check, these may be red flags that help a landlord decide that another tenant would be more desirable.

After a desirable tenant has viewed the property and seems interested in renting, they should complete a rental application that includes information about living history, criminal history, financial/credit history, and permitted lifestyle questions. Things like previous evictions or bankruptcies may not be an automatic bar to renting a property, but they can certainly be considered in tenant selection. After a tenant has submitted all their information, the landlord should follow up with the tenant’s employers and previous landlords, and complete a credit and background check. A small amount of upfront cost will be worth it if a reliable tenant is found, and an application fee can also be charged to offset some of these costs. Once the tenant’s information checks out, the parties are ready to sign a lease agreement and proceed toward the move-in.

Legal Resources Are Available for Rhode Island Landlords

If you are a landlord who has the perfect tenant, you may not need an attorney right away, but tenant selection is not a perfect science, and if tenants stop paying rent or violate a lease agreement, legal action may become necessary. A qualified Rhode Island landlord-tenant attorney can take action to encourage tenants to get into compliance, and proceed with an eviction if necessary. The skilled Rhode Island landlord-tenant attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo can help you determine the best course of action with your troublesome tenant, and represent you in an eviction if needed. If you are a landlord with tenant issues, contact our office and schedule a consultation with an attorney at Bilodeau Capalbo to discuss your case by calling our offices at 401-300-4055.

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