Information You Should Always Collect from Potential Renters Before Signing a Lease

Information You Should Always Collect from Potential Renters Before Signing a Lease

A lease is the most important document between you and your renters because it establishes the terms of their stay at your rental property. It also allows you to have essential information about your tenants, such as their contact information, to ensure a smooth lease term.

However, before you even sign the lease with your renters, what information should you collect? Landlords in Maryland should always get the following information from potential renters before signing the lease.

Proof of Identity

You will need proof that your tenants are who they say they are. To verify their identity, ask to see their identification, which can include a driver’s license or a passport, as long as neither is expired.

You can also ask to see their social security card to confirm their identity. If you are doing a background or credit check, you will need their social security number anyway. You will need to verify the identity of every person signing the lease.

Proof of Employment or Income

Although your renters will provide employment and income information in the rental application, it isn’t enough to take their word for it. You will need to verify their employment or income to determine if they can afford the rent every month.

You can ask for pay stubs, bank statements, tax forms, employment contracts, or other proof to verify income. You can also call the tenant’s employer directly to confirm your potential tenant is indeed employed there and that their income is what they say it is.

Verifying your tenant’s employment and income is one of the most important steps you can take as a landlord, as it will ensure the tenant can afford the rent and that you will get paid every month.

Rental History

Tenants should list their rental history on your application, but do yourself a favor and follow up with their previous landlords. Have a list of questions to ask the landlords, such as if they experienced any issues with the tenants and what their experience with them was like.

Asking specific questions will help you determine if the landlord was actually their landlord. For example, you can ask how much they paid in rent per month, how long they stayed or the dates they stayed, and even the address of the property.

If the previous landlords share negative experiences or you find out that the tenants were evicted, these are red flags to consider before signing the lease.

Their Contact Information

Be sure you have the tenants’ contact information, including phone numbers and e-mail addresses, to confirm you can contact them for things like inspections, emergencies, and maintenance.

It’s always a good idea to confirm that you can contact all tenants on the lease before signing to ensure they did not give you a fake phone number or the wrong e-mail address.

Pet Information or Documentation

If you allow pets at your rental property, get information about the animal or animals that will be on the property. For example, you may need to know the pet’s weight if your lease has restrictions on the weight or require proof of vaccinations. 

For landlords that do not allow pets but have tenants with service or emotional support animals, you may need to ask for proof of the animal’s status as a service or support animal to verify the information and have it on file.

Vehicle Information

Tenants that have a vehicle (or vehicles) should provide vehicle information such as a license plate number or the make and model of the vehicle so it does not get towed. Apartment buildings may have assigned spaces, so ensuring the tenant’s vehicle is the one in the assigned space is important.

Vehicle information can help make things easier for you as a landlord and protect your tenants from having their vehicle towed or even vandalized if it is in the wrong spot. License plate numbers may also be necessary for buildings that allow access to parking garages with license plate recognition.

Be Prepared to Sign Your Tenants

Having all the information you need as a landlord will help you be prepared to sign the lease with your tenants. Being prepared can also help the renting process go smoothly so soon your tenants will be settled and you will have a predictable monthly income.

Need help preparing your lease or collecting the information you need from potential renters? Contact FAS Management today at (202) 337-5080.

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