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Tenant Screening: How Does It Work & Why Is It So Essential?

By Laura Anderson

There are 9.27 million households in Australia, 31 per cent of whom rent their homes, according to census data. Out of roughly 2.9 million renters in our country, there may only be hundreds that suit your investment property.

This group will treat your property with respect, pay rent on time and get along with the neighbours. They’ll be a pleasure to deal with, making your life easier and helping ensure the success of your investment.

However, as incredible as they sound, finding these tenants can be a challenge. Your best bet is effectively marketing your property to attract the right people, then carefully and thoroughly screening all applicants.


Screening is of little use if only one person applies to rent your property. For that reason, marketing your property effectively is absolutely essential. You need to get your investment in front of as many prospective tenants as possible, so that you receive plenty of applications and are able to be picky when choosing.

Your property manager should be an expert when it comes to marketing. They’ll help you set the rent at an appropriate level, highlight your property’s strengths, and market it through all the most effective channels. With your property manager’s help, you should have dozens of interested parties and the power to pick and choose.


Before you start screening tenants, you need to have an idea of what the perfect applicant looks like. For most this will be a tidy person, with a steady income, who’s respectful and intends to stay in the property for an extended period of time.

For others, the criteria may be more specific. For example, if your investment is in a quiet family area, you may want to think twice about renting it out to rowdy students or aspiring rock bands. Be sure to communicate your vision of the perfect tenant with your property manager.


Screening your tenants involves more than just checking their income and rental history. Their character matters too. When tenants are viewing, your property manager should keep an eye on them and get to know them as much as possible.

With just a quick informal chat, your property manager may be able to find out what kind of person they are, how their job’s going, if they move often and if they’ve ever had trouble in previous rentals.


If you can’t be sure that the applicant is who they say they are, there’s no point in screening at all. For that reason your property manager should request ID and proof of income from all prospective tenants.

This will help you avoid tenants with dishonest intentions, or those who have trouble renting because of serious disputes in the past.


One of the most important steps of any tenant screening process is reference checking. It’s a great way to find out more about their previous renting experience, the stability of their income and the impression they’ve left on people in the past.

The first call to make should be to the landlord or property manager of their last rental. Ask them how the applicants were as tenants? How did they treat the property? Did they pay their rent on time, every time?

Next, your property manager will speak to the applicant’s employer. They should ask if the applicant is likely to still be employed six months down the track, and how they are as an employee. As a general rule, great employees make good tenants.


Last of all, when your property manager has decided on the favourite applicant they should check the National Tenancy Database. Here they’ll find out if they’ve had any serious disputes with previous landlords, if they’ve ever applied for bankruptcy and if they’ve ever been to court.

If you’ve completed the rest of the screening process to a high standard nothing should come up here. However, it’s always better to be safe then sorry when it comes to your investment and checking the NTD could help you dodge a bullet.

If you need help finding the perfect tenants for your investment property, get in touch with an experienced local property manager you can trust.

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