Atlanta is the largest city and capital of Georgia, making it the crossroads of culture and commerce for the region. With so many people looking to live here, the rental market is seeing some of its best years lately. Atlanta landlords are going to have plenty of opportunities to keep their rental properties full all year long. However, to be truly profitable, landlords should always heed Atlanta tenant screening laws.
This post goes into detail for Atlanta landlords on:
- Atlanta tenant screening laws
- Free resources for landlords
- Tenant screening process overview
- Identify the best tenant screening services
Tenant Screening Atlanta Laws
There are many federal, state and municipal laws that oversee how applicants are screened. Atlanta landlords need to know all of them so they can conduct tenant screening fairly and legally. Ignorance is not an excuse, and landlords that fail to comply with Atlanta tenant screening laws can face lots of trouble.
These are just some of the Atlanta tenant screening laws currently in effect:
- There’s no limits to how much landlords can charge for application fees.
- Atlanta’s application fees are not refundable
- Like many other cities, the security deposit and the application fee are separate transactions
The Common Screening Mistake Many Landlords Make
Before Atlanta landlords can run a background check on an applicant, they must first get a signature of the applicant. If they don’t have that signature of content, then there can be no background check done. In other words, any Atlanta landlord that doesn’t have a signature won’t be able do a background check on an applicant.
Here’s how the rental application at RentPrep looks:
Look at where the top arrow is pointing. It informs applicants that the application fee is non-refundable. Now look at where the bottom arrow is pointing. This is the signature line that landlords need to run a background check.
Resources for Tenant Screening in Atlanta
RentPrep has gathered a helpful list of links for you to use in your real estate business. There’s no better way to find top tenants than to use the information here.
- Rental Application PDF – Have every prospective tenant fill out this rental application.*
- Move-In Move-Out checklist – This is helpful for after the tenant screening process to make sure you document the condition of the rental
- Rental Lease Agreement – Once you’ve decided on a tenant you’ll want to draw up a lease. (make sure this editable doc is compliant with your state laws)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA – Our screeners here at RentPrep are FCRA certified to ensure compliance on your screening report
- Metro Fair Housing Services – All about housing anti-discrimination in Atlanta
*Be more efficient by implementing a no blank space policy for applications. It means that landlords deny any incomplete applications, or those with blanks for answers. It’s impossible to do a thorough background check on someone that doesn’t complete the application fully.
Atlanta Tenant Screening Process
To avoid any arbitrary decisions, many landlords create a tenant screening criteria list. This gives them a written standard to compare applications. Every landlords ought to write up an Atlanta tenant screening criteria list before their next vacancy. All they need to do is make a list of the qualities they want to see in an ideal tenant. Standards should be reasonable for the unit and the area of the city.
This could be an Atlanta tenant screening criteria list:
- No evictions
- No smoking
- Credit score above 580
- Income to rent ratio: at least 3:1
- Been employed for the last 12 months concurrently
- No criminal history
- One dog under 25 lbs accepted with current vaccination records
- Must have current renter’s insurance policy or willing to get one before signing lease
- No bankruptcies
In the process of writing up the list, Atlanta landlords must never discriminate against protected classes. Metro areas like Atlanta often have additional usually enact anti-discrimination laws than are more strict than the rest of the state. That’s why it is so important for landlords to be informed. Here is a website about the city of Atlanta that provides discrimination information. Also, landlords can brush up on federal housing discrimination issues at the hud.gov website.
More about Atlanta tenant screening laws:
- There’s no limit to what landlords can ask for in an application fee.
- Atlanta landlords cannot deny applicants based on federal, state and municipal protected class criteria.
- An application can be denied if it doesn’t meet a landlord’s tenant screening criteria.
Landlords should study up on Atlanta’s landlord/tenant laws, and this website can be a good starting point.
Check Out Your Georgia Screening Guide
In many cases cities have their own screening rules and regulations while the state has another set of rules that govern the screening process.
Click here to go to our post on “Georgia Tenant Screening Process.”
Tenant Screening 101
At RentPrep, we believe tenant screening is more than running a background check.
That is why we’ve put together a comprehensive tenant screening guide.
Learn the ropes of tenant screening and you’ll avoid costly mistakes that plague rookie landlords.
Finding the Right Tenant Screening Services
Atlanta landlords are now able to run a background check on the top applicants. Locating a good tenant screening service is important to do the best job. For a reasonable cost, a good tenant screening service should give landlords a fast, detailed background report.
Atlanta landlords need a tenant screening company that provides:
- Previous addresses
- Judgments and liens
Getting the background check report will certainly give landlords the information they need to offer a lease or not. The Atlanta tenant screening process helps reduce the risk of signing with a bad tenant.
At RentPrep, we have experience with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years. Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.
Our FCRA certified screeners will put your mind at ease by providing the best tenant screening report available.