Common Mistakes When Screening Los Angeles Tenants


As a rental property owner in Los Angeles, it is important to make sure that you have qualified tenants when renting out your available spaces. By screening tenants, you will be able to make sure that you get people who will take good care of the property and make rental payments on time. While most landlords and property owners properly screen tenants, there are some property owners who make mistakes. With these mistakes, they take on difficult tenants and lose a considerable amount of money. For any property owner in Los Angeles who is looking to avoid taking on problem tenants, they will want to keep certain mistakes in mind. (Related: How to Build Your Real Estate Brand)

Not Properly Verifying Income

One of the most common mistakes for property owners when screening tenants in Los Angeles is not properly verifying income. It is very important that any tenant who is looking to rent space will have a sufficient income to pay the rent on a monthly basis. Property owners will need to receive paystubs, copies of paychecks, tax returns and/or a letter from an employer that proves that the prospective tenant makes the required income. This is usually three times the rental rate. Those who make mistakes don’t go over these documents, don’t request them and who rent to someone who has a monthly income that is not at least three times the monthly rental rate.

Not Checking Criminal Records

Another common mistake made by property owners when screening tenants is not checking for any criminal records. While most tenants are law abiding residents, there are some who may have a criminal record. Some of these tenants can have significant convictions such as felonies. They may also have a record or property crime such as vandalism or drug possession. It is important to avoid taking on any tenant that doesn’t have a record of criminal activity that is associated with violence, theft or property damage. Some property owners disregard this and then have a tenant ruin one of their rental units and/or commit crimes on their property. (Make sure to check your state and local laws and regulations to ensure your review of criminal record is not violating any anti-discrimination statutes.)

Not Verifying Employment

Property owners sometimes make the mistake of not verifying employment. When qualifying a tenant, some property owners will not request any information about the applicant’s employer and whether or not they are currently employed. It is important to verify the employment of an applicant to make sure that they have sufficient income to pay the rent on time every month. To avoid this mistake, confirm the applicant’s employment record immediately.

Not Checking References

Not using or checking references is another one of the most common mistakes made by property owners when screening tenants. These property owners do not research the applicant’s rental history. They don’t contact previous landlords, employers or neighbors who have knowledge of a person’s history of renting property units. By not using references, a property owner will likely take on a tenant who is not able to pay rent, damages the property, commits a crime and/or leaves the property without notice. As a result, property owners will need to get references before renting a unit to a tenant.

Not Reviewing Credit History

Some landlords and property owners make the mistake of not checking the credit history of an applicant. The credit history is a record of a person’s payments of debts, bills and rents. It is important to check the credit history to make sure that someone is financially responsible. Property owners who don’t check the credit history of an applicant can end up taking on a tenant that is not reliable in paying rent and can therefore get themselves in trouble such as losing needed rental income.

Not Checking Photo ID

Whenever a property owner looks to rent a unit to a tenant, they will often check for photo identification. This is a way of making sure that the applicant is the actual person who is looking to rent the unit. There are some property owners who don’t check the identification of the applicant and then run into problems. They will often have a situation where the applicant who qualifies for a rental unit will get a problem tenant into the unit through their application. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the applicant will also be the tenant by checking their identification. (Related: How Much House Can You Afford?)

Not Verifying the Rental Application

Owners of property sometimes don’t verify the rental application. This is another major mistake because they don’t verify all of the information on the application. Property owners need to screen tenants by making sure that all of the information on the rental application is true and correct. By not verifying the information on the rental application, they will likely take on a tenant that is unreliable and/or someone who can be dangerous.

Not Using a Rental Application At All

There are some landlords who don’t use a rental application at all. Not using a rental application is one of the biggest mistakes made by property owners. When not using a rental application, these landlords have no way of qualifying a tenant. They are unable to determine their income, their identity, criminal record or credit history. As a result, they are at high risk of getting tenants that they eventually have to remove. Therefore, owners of rental property will need to use a rental application every time they offer a rental unit in order to avoid this situation.


While an overwhelming majority of landlords and property owners don’t do this, there are some who make decisions on tenants through discrimination. Some property owners will reject an applicant based on their race, religion, national origin or gender. This is illegal and violates civil rights laws. Any landlord who does this will likely get into serious legal trouble. They can be subject to a costly lawsuit which can affect their ability to keep the property. Therefore, it is important that property owners never engage in discrimination when qualifying tenants for their rental units in their property.