International Tenant Screening In Orlando Property Management

International Tenant Screening In Orlando Property Management

In a rental market like Orlando, we have a huge variety of potential tenants, including immigrants who may be here for school, for business, or for any number of other reasons. Tenant screening is a challenging part of property management in the best of circumstances. Making rental decisions about tenants who may not have a social security number, or whose social security number is recently issued and has no credit history behind it takes a little extra work.

Why Do I Need To Consider Dealing With This?

 You may be wondering why you’d want to consider establishing policies for renting to tenants who require extra work to screen. The truth is that many immigrants who come to Orlando for a job already have an excellent credit history in their home countries and make reliable tenants. According to a study (page 17) from Joint Center For Housing Studies Of Harvard University, about 20 percent of renter households nationwide are headed by an immigrant, and about half of all immigrants in the United States are renters. That’s a large group of prospective tenants no rental property owner can afford to ignore.

Establish Your Tenant Screening Policy 

Like any other tenant screening issue, consistency is a key factor in maintaining legal compliance and protecting yourself against claims of discrimination. It’s illegal to reject tenants based on national origin, and prospective tenants are covered by the Fair Housing Act, whether they are legal immigrants or not. International tenant screening requires your tenant screening policy to specify what criteria will be used to evaluate applicants when the usual credit and background checks can’t apply. You may establish a set of alternative tenant screening criteria, such as income and bank statements, references from a tenant’s employer, or their credit record in their home country. Whatever criteria you set should be publicly available and consistently applied, just like the screening criteria for any other applicants.

Professional Tenant Screening & Property Management

If you’re a residential rental landlord in Orlando, working with Belmont Management Group for professional tenant screening and property management services makes it easy to maintain legal compliance while taking advantage of the entire pool of prospective tenants available. Call or contact us online for a consultation and to learn more about how we can help your investment properties bring the best returns possible.

Please keep in mind that this is mostly a summary of the important points, but by no means does it constitute or cover the entire topic of international tenant screening.

Different Properties May Require Different Tenant Screening Policies

Different Properties May Require Different Tenant Screening Policies

One of the best measures property owners can implement in order to prevent and defend against discrimination claims by turned-down tenants is to develop an consistently apply a detailed tenant screening procedure and policy. By laying out your decision-making process and following it in every case, you build a record of maintaining legal compliance in your tenant selection decisions. One important thing to know, though, is that you don’t have to follow a one-size-fits-all policy for all of the rental properties you own. You can establish different selection criteria for prospective tenants of each property you own, and in some cases, doing so can offer a significantly better return on your investment.

Not All Residential Rentals Are Created Equal

Let’s say you have a portfolio of rental properties, which consists largely of homes with builder-grade finishes, in good repair, operating at relatively low maintenance and repair costs. You grab a great deal on a larger home with upgraded amenities like solar panels, a hot tub, large yard with higher-end landscape and lighting, and high-end finishes and appliances. You’re going to need tenants who can and will take care of those upgrades, and can reliably afford significantly higher rent than the tenants at your other properties. It doesn’t make sense to apply higher standards across the board, or you’re likely to increase vacancy at your older properties, but you may have concerns about applying different tenant screening criteria to your new one.

How To Establish Separate Tenant Screening Criteria

Think through what tenant screening criteria will work for your new property. You may want to require a higher FICO score or larger income, a longer period since a prospective tenant filed bankruptcy, and you may want to remove some options like having a co-signer or paying extra rent to make up for credit scores and income that don’t quite meet your standards. Whatever criteria you decide on, spell them out in detail, publish them with the rental listing, and follow them to the letter with every single application.

Get Help With Compliant Tenant Screening In Orlando

The professionals at Belmont Management Group help property owners like you to develop and consistently follow legally compliant tenant screening for each of their residential rental properties. We also make it easy to keep your properties profitable with low vacancy rates and affordable maintenance and repairs. Call or contact us online for a consultation, and to learn more about how our property management services can help your investment properties bring better returns.


Note: Please keep in mind that this is mostly a summary of the important points, but by no means does it constitute or cover the entire topic of tenant screening regulations and policies. You can adjust the screening criteria, as long as it does not violate fair housing laws.

It’s Time To Review Tenant Screening Criteria | Orlando Property

It’s Time To Review Tenant Screening Criteria For Your Orlando Property

In a recent survey by Zillow Research, half of the real estate and economic experts who responded said they expected another recession to begin in 2020, while 35 percent said they believed a recession would likely begin in 2021. Unlike the Great Recession that started in late 2007, this predicted recession will probably see factors other than the housing market as its primary cause. Because of additional regulation in the mortgage industry since the Great Recession, today’s homeowners and investment property owners are generally in a better position with more equity and more solid ability to repay the mortgages on the property they own. If you own residential rental property, now is an ideal time to review your tenant screening criteria and make adjustments that will help you maximize tenancy and keep your income coming in steadily, even if the future does hold a recession.

Why Now Is The Best Time To Adjust Your Policies

Establishing and applying a consistent set of criteria by which you judge applications for each of your income properties is the best possible defense against future discrimination claims. By looking ahead, you can make adjustments to your tenant screening criteria now and establish a consistent pattern of applying them before a recession hits. This also means that you’ll start now to fill your vacancies with tenants who are most likely to be able to continue renting from you through an economic downturn. Consider criteria like the length of employment, in addition to income and credit score. It’s also a good time to establish policies covering when and how you might consider renting to tenants who don’t meet all of your primary criteria. For example, might you consider renting to a tenant whose income or credit score don’t meet your desired minimum if they provide a co-signer or a larger deposit, or pay increased rent? If so, be as specific as possible: If your minimum desired FICO score is 670, might you consider renting to a tenant with a FICO score of 640, if they gave a larger deposit? How much? Would you consider renting to a 600 FICO score if they had a cosigner with a 740+ FICO score?

Get Professional Help With Tenant Screening In Orlando

Tenant screening can be a complicated issue because of many federal, state, and local laws that may apply. When you work with the experts at Belmont Management Group, you’ll get sound advice on compliant tenant screening, and money-saving help with maintenance, marketing, and every other aspect of managing your investment property. Call or contact us online for a consultation and we’ll help you make a sound plan for today and the future.


Note: Please keep in mind that this is an overview of the important points, but by no means does it constitute a prediction of the economy, nor of the impacts it may have on the residential rental market.

Protect Yourself With A Comprehensive Tenant Screening Process

Protect Yourself With A Comprehensive Tenant Screening Process

There are a number of federal, state, and local laws that pertain to tenant screening and selection, and they can get confusing. The most important step for Orlando property owners to take is carefully planning a tenant screening process that covers all the legal requirements, then implementing that process and following it consistently. A well-documented tenant screening process and records demonstrating that you follow that process every time can be a powerful defense against a claim of discrimination from a prospective tenant. Since the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) civil penalties for a Fair Housing Act (FHA) violation start at nearly $20,000 for a first-time offender, it’s an issue no property should ignore.

Make A Plan And Make It Public

Establish a fixed set of criteria you’ll use to judge each application. If you own more than one property, each property might have its own set of criteria, but you have to be consistent in applying the same set of criteria to every application for a given property. Your criteria can and should include things like a minimum credit score and income; standards for issues like bankruptcy or eviction (number or length of time since filing bankruptcy or being evicted, for example); criminal history, when allowed; length of prior tenancies and/or references from previous landlords; or length of employment. Be sure to include something like a decision tree for matters where you might accept a tenant, but only with a co-signer, extra deposit, or increased rent. These are called adverse actions, and you need to have established policies for when you will take these actions, and when you will simply reject the application.

Once you’ve established your selection criteria and verified that they are compliant with applicable laws, you can shortcut a lot of potential trouble by publishing your criteria on your website, or another outlet where prospective tenants can see them before they apply.

Be Consistent And Follow Through

Don’t be tempted to bend the rules for an applicant, no matter how much you may wish to. The value of establishing this process lies in being able to demonstrate 100% compliance with your own process. If you need to take an adverse reaction on an application, you’ll need to provide the applicant with a written explanation of the reasons. If you’re ever faced with a discrimination complaint, this documentation is your first and strongest line of defense.

Compliant, Defensible Tenant Screening In Orlando

Defending against a discrimination complaint can involve hefty legal fees on top of the civil penalties if you’re found to be in violation. The most effective way to prevent such costs is to create a tenant screening system that builds a defense as you go about your business. The Belmont Management Group helps Orlando property owners with all aspects of residential property management, including tenant screening. Call or contact us online for a free consultation.


Note: Please keep in mind that this is a general overview of the important points, but by no means does it constitute or cover all of the requirements of a compliant tenant screening program.

Is Your Tenant Screening Process FCRA & FHA Compliant?

Is Your Tenant Screening Process FCRA & FHA Compliant?

Many investment property owners who handle their own tenant screening process and rental decisions are unaware that there are state and federal laws that apply to tenant credit and background checks, and how landlords can use that information to make rental decisions. If you’re not consistently practicing a compliant tenant screening process, you could find yourself facing stiff discrimination fines or vulnerable to civil suit from rejected prospective tenants.

What Does The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) Have To Do With My Rental? 

You’re not a credit reporting agency, so this may seem weird, but when you order a consumer report on a prospective tenant, you’re certifying to the agency providing the report that you are going to use that information for a legally “permissible purpose,” in this case, tenant screening. So far, so good.

But if you find something in that report that causes you to reject the tenant’s application or require a co-signer, or require additional rent (these are called adverse actions in legal terminology), the FCRA requires you to notify the party in writing of the adverse action and reason. You must provide the contact information for the company who gave you the report, and let the recipient know that they have a right to dispute the report.

Fair Housing Act And Criminal Background Checks For Tenants

Running a criminal background check on a prospective tenant seems like a no-brainer. Who wants to rent to criminals? In practice, though, landlords are limited in how they use information from a criminal background check to take adverse action against a tenant.

  • A tenant can’t be rejected because of an arrest, if no conviction followed.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that a rejection based on criminal record “accurately distinguishes between criminal conduct that indicates a demonstrable risk to resident safety and/or property and criminal conduct that does not.”
  • People with convictions for distribution or manufacture of drugs can be denied based on those convictions. People with convictions for drug possession cannot.
  • Your treatment of criminal issues must be consistent across all applicants. You can’t reject an application from one person with a drug distribution conviction, and then later accept one from another person with the same conviction.
  • Selective use of criminal history to reject applications based on race, national origin, or other protected characteristics is considered discriminatory.

Stay On The Right Side Of The Law With Tenant Screening

The laws that cover tenant screening are complicated and they’re always changing. It’s easy to see how a landlord could end up breaking the law without even knowing it. The Orlando property management experts at Belmont Management Group help their clients stay compliant with all of the applicable laws, so they can rest assured that their investment property business is in good standing and running smoothly. Call or contact us online to learn more about how working with the professional property management team at Belmont Management can make your rental properties turn the best possible profit for you.



Please keep in mind that this is mostly a summary of the important points, but by no means does it constitute or cover all of the requirements of a compliant tenant screening program.

Tenant Screening Questions | Orlando Property Management Company

Tenant Screening Questions To Ask Before You Show A Vacancy

Showing vacancies to prospective tenants can be a huge time investment for owners of rental properties. By establishing a set of pre-qualifying questions, publishing them on your website, and consistently asking them of every prospective tenant, you can cut down the amount of time you spend on prospects that will never pan out. By publishing these questions and regularly asking them, you add a layer of protection against allegations of discrimination, right up front.

  • Move-In Date – You know how long you’re willing to hold a vacancy for the right tenant. Maybe it’s two weeks, or maybe as much as a month. Whatever it is, don’t agree to show your property to people who want to move after that time period, and asking a prospect’s move-date up front also allows you to screen out people who need to move before your property will be ready.
  • How Many Occupants Will There Be? – This is one that can generate discrimination complaints if you don’t have a strict policy in place, and you can demonstrate that you follow it. For many rental property owners, two people per bedroom is a maximum they’re comfortable with. Whatever your maximum, per room and per unit, set it, publish it, and stick to it!
  • How Long Of A Lease Do You Want? Most property owners hope to see longer leases, as opposed to shorter ones, though in certain market conditions, signing leases that are too long can be a negative. Make sure your prospects’ expectations are a match for your best interest.
  • Do You Have Pets? – Knowing how many and what type of pets a prospect has up front allows you to offer lease terms that factor having those pets as residents.
  • Do You Know Your Approximate Credit Score? – Not every prospect will know their exact FICO score, but they should at least have an idea of their score range. If you have a hard minimum score, tell them what it is and that it’s non-negotiable before you set an appointment. 
  • Have you viewed the property online/driven by? – It’s amazing how many people will call for a viewing of a place they’ve never driven by or taken a virtual tour of. It’s a simple way to spare everyone’s time, if it’s not a match.

Professional Rental Property Management: The Ultimate Time-Saver

Whether your rental properties are in Winter Park or Orlando, or spread out in between, working with a rental property manager will help free up a great deal of your time. Belmont Management Group provides tenant screening and showing along with maintenance and repairs, inspections, collections, and even evictions. Call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Effective Tenant Screening Heads Off Future Problems

Effective Tenant Screening Heads Off Future Problems

Tenant screening is one area that many owners who manage their own residential rental properties struggle with. If you own a single property or only a couple of properties, you may find it cost-prohibitive to run full background checks on every applicant, and certain services like rental history verification may not be available at all to you as an individual. You know that it’s important to gather all the information you can to make informed decisions about tenants, and yet, getting that information is expensive and time-consuming, if you can get it at all.

Better Marketing Strategies Bring Better Prospects

Another area that presents significant challenges for owners is marketing. There are lots of places to advertise rental properties free, but they’re often riddled with irrelevant ads and they’re not where the responsible tenants you want to attract naturally go looking. Finding good tenants starts as early in the process as choosing where to market your property, and the best outlets usually cost money for individuals to place a listing or ad. Property management companies that run many listings each month typically get a reduced rate, making it more affordable to place their listings in the most desirable outlets.

Professional Property Managers Have Better Screening Tools

Professional property managers like the team at Belmont Management Group run a high volume of tenant screenings, so makes sense for them to pay for more powerful tools to help them do more effective screenings, faster. When your property is managed through a professional management service, you get the benefit of better information at a lower cost, which ultimately means you’re likely to have longer-term tenancies with fewer problems, and less chance of needing to evict tenants. We’ll not only pull a credit report on each prospective tenant, but also run a background check, verify their employment and income, and review their rental history and rent payment history. Vacancies are filled faster, and turnover rates are significantly lower, which ultimately saves you money.

Better Returns On You Investment, Less Hassle

 Owning investment property is never going to bring completely passive income, but working with a professional property management company will definitely help shift the balance toward “less time, better income” for you, the owner. The Belmont Management Group delivers better results for their clients, throughout the leasing and property management process. Call or contact us online for a consultation and we’ll tell you more about how professional property management brings you a better return.