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Successful landlords swear by tenant screening to help their real estate investments be more profitable. But can Arkansas tenant screening really make a difference? It’s true that thorough tenant screening matches landlords with the best tenants in the state. Whether the properties are in Little Rock, Hot Springs, Fayetteville, Jonesboro or elsewhere in the state, Arkansas tenant screening makes a big difference.
In this article, we’ll help Arkansas landlords learn about:
- Arkansas tenant screening laws
- Screening process overview
- Free resources
- Tenant screening services
Arkansas Tenant Screening Laws
Arkansas landlords should not underestimate the importance of knowing the tenant screening laws for the state. While learning all the details may seem intimidating, it really isn’t. There are lots of resources out there to help get up to speed.
A few of the Arkansas tenant screening laws include:
- No maximum limit on application fees
- Arkansas landlords are limited to charging 2 months rent for a security deposit if they own more than 5 properties. Less than 5 and the state says they can charge a “reasonable” deposit.
- Application fees in Arkansas are not refundable, even if the application is denied.
Application fees should be paid when the applicant gives the completed form to the landlord.
Learn more about Arkansas landlord/tenant laws here.
Landlords Often Make This Common Screening Mistake
Arkansas landlords who want to run a background check on each qualified applicant often skip an important step–getting consent. Landlords cannot perform a background check unless they have a signed consent form from the applicant.
Any landlord with a current application form should check for a signature line. If it doesn’t have one, it should be added right away.
Here’s the RentPrep form:
On this form, the bottom arrow shows applicants where to sign to give consent for a background check.
Additionally, the top arrow indicates the non-refundable application fee so there is no confusion down the road.
Resources for Tenant Screening in Arkansas
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
- Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Handbook – Topics on Arkansas rental property management
- Arkansas Legislature Landlord/Tenant Statutes and Codes – Arkansas state laws regarding landlords and tenants
*One way to easily eliminate questionable applications is to use a no blank space policy. Landlords use it when reviewing applications and discard any that have blank spaces as answers. If there is no answer to an application question, it is impossible to do an investigation. It’s an easy way to eliminate potential trouble.
Arkansas Tenant Screening Process
Arkansas landlords need their own list of screening criteria. When a nice list is made that contains the ideal factors in an ideal tenant, landlords can then sort out applications.
Tenant screening lists often specify:
- Credit score minimum
- Pet restrictions
- Income to rent ratio
- Smoking restriction
- Criminal history
- Past evictions
Of course, landlords must be careful not to discriminate against protected classes as outlined by the government. There are lots of details on protected classes at hud.gov.
When landlords consistently apply their tenant screening list to applications, it’s easy to sort out the ones that must be rejected and the ones that move on to the next round. Of course, they must always keep those same standards and never make exceptions. What may be a simple judgment call by the landlord can easily look like discrimination. Landlords can avoid discrimination lawsuits by consistent application.
Remember, Arkansas tenant screening laws include:
- No limit for application fees
- Application fees in Arkansas aren’t refundable.
- Consistent application of valid criteria to avoid discrimination
Learn more about Arkansas screening criteria here.
Find Your Perfect Renter
Finding the right tenant can be a headache if you don’t know what you’re doing.
That is why we’ve created a tenant screening guide for you to find the perfect renter.
Check out our free tenant screening guide and learn how to find the perfect renter.
We try and spice things up in our tenant screening guide by having you follow Laura throughout the tenant screening process
Locating the Best Screening Service
When landlords have selected their top applications, it is time to locate the best screening service. An in-depth background check can help separate the best applicant from the rest.
The best screening services should investigate:
- All prior evictions
- Bankruptcy history
- Judgments or liens
- Previous address history
Landlords should definitely run a background check before extending a lease agreement. Getting valuable background information on an applicant can reveal what kind of tenant they might be.
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.