As a property owner in Knoxville, it’s essential to put into practice a thorough tenant screening process to find responsible and reliable tenants who will take care of your property. 

By properly screening potential tenants, landlords can find renters who have a history of paying rent on time, a good credit score, and stable employment. This guide outlines the steps landlords can take to perform an effective tenant screening in Knoxville.

Why Should You Care about Tenant Screening?

As a landlord, tenant screening is a critical process that helps you protect your investment and avoid potential legal issues. It will also help you avoid tenants who may cause damage to your property, delay rent payments or have a history of evictions. 

Not to mention, tenant screening can help you reduce your tenant turnover rate, which, in turn, helps minimize any lost rental income. 

What Does the Screening Process Entail?

Before beginning the screening process, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the Florida Fair Housing Act to make sure everything is done in accordance with the law.  

Once you’ve read up on landlord-tenant laws, the following are some steps we suggest you follow when screening potential renters for your Knoxville rental unit.

Identify Attributes of the Ideal Tenant

Before you start the tenant screening process, it’s important to think about the characteristics you want in an ideal tenant. Factors such as credit history, rental history, and criminal record should be taken into consideration. 


Identifying the characteristics of your ideal tenant can help you set appropriate rental criteria, such as minimum income requirements and credit score thresholds. This ensures that you attract suitable tenants and filter out those who are not eligible. In short, you’ll want responsible and reliable tenants who follow the terms of the lease agreement

Identifying these attributes also allows you to create a clear picture of the type of tenant you’re looking for and tailor your screening process to find the right tenant. 

Pre-Screen Tenants

Pre-screening tenants is a useful step that helps you narrow down the pool of applicants to those who meet your criteria. You can use phone or email to pre-screen applicants by asking questions about their rental history, employment, and income. 

By doing this, you can avoid scheduling meetings with tenants who don’t meet your criteria. Pre-screening tenants also saves time and resources as it helps you focus on tenants more likely to qualify for your rental property.

Meet Prospective Tenants

Meeting prospective tenants in person is an essential step in the tenant screening process. During the meeting, you can assess the tenant’s demeanor, communication skills, and overall compatibility with you as a landlord. You can also discuss the rental agreement, rent payment, and property rules. 

Meeting prospective tenants also allows you to establish a relationship with them and address any concerns or questions they may have. It is an opportunity to clarify any ambiguities in the rental agreement and establish a good landlord-tenant relationship from the get-go.


Review Rental Applications

Rental applications provide crucial information about prospective tenants. Applicants are required to fill out the application, which includes information such as their name, contact information, employment history, income, and rental history. 

Rental applications should also include authorization for a background check and credit report. Reviewing rental applications helps you identify tenants who meet your rental criteria and those who do not. During this process, always be sure to use tenant screening tools legally

You can use the information provided to verify tenant income and employment and to check for any red flags, such as criminal records or prior evictions.

Verify Tenant Income and Employment

Verifying tenant income and employment is essential to make sure prospective tenants can afford the rent you’ve set. You can request pay stubs or an employment verification letter to confirm income and employment status. Ideally, a tenant’s income should be at least three times the monthly rent. 

Verifying tenant income and employment also helps you establish the tenant’s level of financial stability, which is critical in determining their ability to pay rent in a timely manner.

Ask Former Landlords Critical Questions

Speaking with a prospective tenant’s former landlords is a crucial step in the tenant screening process. You can ask questions about the tenant’s rental history, such as whether they paid rent on time and if they caused any damage to the property. 


It’s important to ask open-ended questions that allow the landlord to provide detailed responses. You can ask questions such as “how would you describe the tenant’s behavior during their tenancy?” or “did the tenant cause any damage to the property during their stay?”

Asking critical questions to former landlords helps you identify potential red flags and determine whether a prospective tenant is a good fit for your rental property. This will help you develop good landlord-tenant relationships in the long run.

Check for Criminal Records

Another important aspect of tenant screening is checking for criminal records. Conducting a criminal background check helps you identify any potential safety risks of renting your property to a particular tenant. 

You can also search for any outstanding warrants or pending criminal cases. Checking for criminal records helps you ensure the safety of your property and your other tenants. 

Bottom Line

Tenant screening is a critical process that helps landlords find responsible and reliable tenants for their properties. Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively screen Knoxville renters and minimize the risk of problematic tenants.

Alternatively, you can hire an experienced property manager to conduct the tenant screening process for you.

At Keyrenter Broward, we understand the importance of effective tenant screening for property owners. Our team has access to advanced screening tools and resources that enable us to identify ideal tenants for your property. 

We also have extensive experience in tenant screening and can spot red flags that may indicate a problematic tenant. 

If you’re a property owner in Knoxville and need help managing your property, contact Keyrenter Broward. Our team is dedicated to helping property owners achieve their goals and succeed in the rental market.