How To Properly Screen Tenants in Southwest Michigan

Real estate rentals offer a reliable stream of monthly income, provided that you invest in a suitable property in a desirable location like Southwest Michigan. You’ve secured a great property that fits your budget and made any necessary improvements, such as updating the kitchen and bathroom. Now, it’s time to begin the tenant screening process in Southwest Michigan. Here’s how to do it right.


To begin the tenant search, post your property and request applications from interested individuals. Ask for a list of their current and previous employment history and their income level. Verify their income with supporting documents like pay stubs or financial statements. The application should also include the contact information for their previous landlord, previous rent amount, and address to follow up later. Inquire about any gaps in their rental history and the reason for it. Additionally, ask how many people and pets they plan to have in the property and request personal references. If candidates refuse to provide certain information, it may be a warning sign.

Properly Screen Tenants

Contact References

The initial step is to confirm the candidate’s current employment status to ensure they have a stable income to pay their rent on time. Following this, contacting their personal references will provide insight into the tenant’s character and reliability, strengthening their potential as a rent-paying tenant. If these checks appear satisfactory, the next reference to contact is their previous landlord to assess the tenant’s rental behavior, including timely payment of rent. During the discussion with the previous landlord, some questions to ask include:

When talking to the previous landlord, be sure to ask the following questions to gauge the tenant’s rental history:

  • Are there any outstanding debts with the tenant?
  • Did the tenant make rent payments on time?
  • Did the tenant cause any damage to the property?
  • Did the tenant cause any disturbances or conflicts with neighbors?
  • Was the tenant refunded their security deposit at the end of the lease?
  • Would the landlord be willing to rent to this tenant again?

Credit Check

It’s advisable to conduct a credit check on your prospective tenants. This step will indicate how the tenant handles payments in general, highlighting whether they have a history of late or missed payments or if they consistently pay their bills on time. The credit check will also reveal their current level of debt, which is vital to determine whether they will be able to pay the rent you are requesting.

Background Check

Additionally, it’s crucial to perform a background check on your potential tenant. Ensure that the screening service you use includes rental history to identify any past evictions, criminal records, and public records for any undisclosed judgments or outstanding debt. The background check will also provide insight into the tenant’s character.


Conduct interviews with your top candidates to ensure their lifestyle and habits align with the intended use of your property. Consider inquiring about the following aspects:

During the interview process, consider asking the following questions to assess the tenant’s lifestyle and habits:

  • Do you have any pets? If so, how old are they, and are they housebroken?
  • Do you plan on having a roommate in the future?
  • What is your typical workday like? Do you work odd hours or night shifts?
  • Do you smoke? If yes, do you smoke indoors or outside?
  • Do you frequently have friends or relatives who stay overnight in your home?

Final Decision

You don’t need to become a private investigator each time you receive a tenant application. During the screening process, your objective is to obtain an accurate snapshot of the tenant and ensure they will be able to pay rent. It’s important to stay within the limits of the law, adhere to the landlord-tenant regulations of Southwest Michigan, and avoid infringing on the tenant’s privacy. Select a tenant who is willing to maintain your property’s upkeep and follow the guidelines of living in the property.

If you require assistance on how to correctly screen tenants in Southwest Michigan or MI, don’t hesitate to contact I Buy SW MI at (231) 392-3262 or send us a message. We can assist you in reviewing your property and refining your screening process.

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