Owning residential real estate in a state like California can be a great investment. That said, becoming a landlord can also be a source of great frustration without having the right tenants occupying your building.

As noted by RentPrep, there is most certainly a right way to go about finding good tenants. Once you find these tenants, do everything you can to keep them in your rental property.

Use the full power of the rental application

Weeding out the potentially bad tenants from the good all starts with what is on the application. Ask for (and contact) personal references to get an idea of the applicant’s personality, and get the applicant’s employment history to give yourself an idea of whether the individual may have trouble paying rent. Also, contact former landlords and ask what kind of tenant the person was. If you have specific desires for your tenants, such as income requirements, make those wishes plain in the application.

Check credit and criminal history

You may not like having to pay for background and credit checks, but the information you uncover can help head off an avoidable disaster. Credit checks let you know how financially responsible applicants are, and background checks let you know of past criminal charges. Remember, someone with a criminal past could be a great tenant while an applicant without a record may prove to be a nightmare. Either way, you need to know what you are getting into before giving someone keys to your property.

Ask the right questions

Taking on a new tenant is almost like a romantic relationship; there has to be the right rapport for sparks to fly. Ask prospective tenants why they want to move in the first place, what they look for in a place to live, if they have any pets or disabilities and how long they plan on sticking around. Turn the tables and allow applicants to ask their own questions.

After finding great tenants, you should focus on keeping them around. Retaining solid tenants is more cost-effective than having to find new ones.

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