After 20 years in this business I can say for certain – the number one mistake landlords make is not requiring credit reports.
I started checking credit in about 2011. In the 7 yrs prior to that I had to bring 41 tenants to Housing Court. I checked how many times I’ve been to Housing Court by logging into http://www.masscourts.org. In the 7 yrs after I started checking credit I had to go to Housing Court only 25 times. That’s a 39% drop.
I am amazed when some tenants these days refuse to show me their credit reports and then they still find apartments anyway. That means that a lot of landlords still don’t check credit reports which is sad.
Nowadays tenants can get their credit for free online at http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com once a year or http://www.CreditKarma.com any time.
It is also really amazing to me how many tenants call with a request to immediately see the apt. No, you can’t see the apt in person before I see your credit and income. For now you can see the video and pics. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time for everyone. There must be a lot of landlords out there who drive to show apartments to unqualified tenants. Showing apartments to anyone off the street who just calls is a huge waste of time. What if you drive to show the apartment and then after you have wasted your time and their time it turns out they don’t qualify because their credit is bad or they don’t have enough income or they have some kind of eviction record on http://www.masscourts.org? By the way if you think you can figure out if someone is going to pay their rent by meeting them in person, you can’t! There are some very smooth operators out there.
What is a good credit score? Credit in the 400s and 500s is not good. In the 600s I need to go line by line and if they have more than $500 in collections and past due, I stay away. Credit in the 700s and 800s is fine.
So the number one mistake landlords make is not checking credit in advance of meeting a prospective tenant. That and not checking if they have any records in Housing Court!