Cyber Monday: Try the Rent Guarantee and get the 1st MONTH FREE! *Offer ends December 15. Book a call to claim offer or use code CYBER2023

How Landlords Decide on Approving Tenants

Key Takeaways

  • A SingleKey Tenant Report can optimize the screening process and help you choose quality tenants.
  • Relying only on reference checks or income verification when choosing tenants won’t offer landlords sufficient information to make informed decisions.
  • With a Tenant Report, you can verify an applicant’s identity and fact-check any information listed on an application.

Published on Jun 23, 2023 | Updated on Jun 23, 2023

A close-up of someone pointing with a pen at a piece of paper during the tenant screening process.

Get through your rental applications faster

Never miss a rent payment

Stress-free guaranteed renting


In a recent survey, we asked more than 200 landlords how they choose new tenants. The most popular deciding factors in approving applicants are a good income and steady employment.

Having an ideal tenant is a dream come true for most property managers. Occasionally, landlords end up with only a handful of options. We’ll explore all the responses from our survey and determine how enlisting an online tenant screening service will get landlords the best results.

A tenant screening survey with the title, "How Landlords Decide on Approvind Tenants", with the folllowing results: Positive references: 16.27%; Good communication: 8.73%; Good income and/or steady employment: 43.65%; Thorough application with no falsified information: 31.35%; Data Source: SingleKey Online; Survey May 2023

Good income and steady employment

Nearly 44% of landlords agreed that having a good income and steady employment are significant factors in choosing a tenant. According to another SingleKey survey where landlords were asked about their biggest fears, non-payment or not paying rent on time was their highest concern. 

These correlating responses indicate that property owners prioritize their rental income above other factors, including criminal history, rental history, background checks, and a social media scan.

Proof of income is essential to determine if the applicant can afford rent payments. Aside from the rent-to-income ratio, a screening report will provide additional information, like a prospective tenant’s debt-to-income ratio. This figure shows landlords if a prospective tenant can manage their fixed monthly payments in addition to rent. If a renter has minimal debt, the rent-to-income ratio will increase. A tenant screening report will also reveal credit history. 

Thorough application with no falsified information

Over 31% of landlords said their determining factor for accepting less-than-ideal tenants was a completed application with accurate information. . More information about an applicant can increase the chances of finding a better tenant.

Ascertaining a comprehensive tenant screening report, complete with background checks, will give landlords a deeper understanding of a prospective renter. This helps landlords make the most informed decision. Learn how to screen tenants effectively to help you choose the best applicants. 

A SingleKey Tenant Report provides detailed and tamper-proof results and is the best way to fact-check any details an applicant includes on their rental application.

With a SingleKey Tenant Report, landlords will have access to the following information:

  • Credit scores and credit history
  • Eviction history, if applicable
  • Criminal background, if applicableIncome verification
  • Previous rental property addresses

Once a landlord verifies an applicant’s identity and income sources, they can apply the formula for the rent-to-income ratio to measure the percentage of income a tenant will use to cover their rent. During the screening process, a tenant credit report is another tool a landlord can use to select a tenant. 

Positive references

Over 16% of landlords see positive references as a determining factor when selecting a tenant. Some landlords might look beyond financial hardships and a poor credit report when they receive positive references. 

While having great references is essential, before drafting a rental agreement, we recommend landlords dig deeper to secure their rental income and safeguard their property.

Only looking at positive references has its flaws. More needs to be done during the application process to secure quality tenants. With a credit check, you can verify someone’s identity. Potential tenants should prove they have a clean eviction record and their monthly income is enough to cover all fixed expenses, including rent payments.

Great communication

Less than 9% of landlords considered great communication a determining factor in selecting prospective tenants. Actions and not words are more meaningful to landlords, which is why great communication is the final and least popular determinant. A seemingly good tenant who communicates effectively can have a poor credit history or insufficient income.

When applicants view the rental property, the tenant screening begins. Looking beyond those first impressions and obtaining a thorough background check will help you assess applicants by collectively taking stock of their financials and references. 

Exclusively looking at a credit score can be deceiving. Learn how to interpret a credit history report to decide if the tenant is financially reliable. Landlords must verify identity, income, credit, and references to reduce the risk of rental scams. Here are some signs you can look for to spot a scam: 

  • Look for conspicuous errors or pertinent information that’s missing.
  • Look for inconsistencies between documents, like name, date of birth, and address.
  • If the font is inconsistent, there are typos, poor grammar, or misspelled words, this could be a sign of a doctored report.

Learn more about how to spot fake rental documents.

A SingleKey Tenant Report can assuage any concerns about falsified information. Our tamper-proof reports are accurate and delivered in under five minutes. 

FAQ: How to improve your odds of renting to a good tenant

Some good examples of criteria to screen prospective tenants effectively include:

  • A good credit history
  • Clean background check
  • Clean eviction history
  • Stable employment history
  • Good rent-to-income ratio
  • Positive reference checks

An effective tenant screening tool includes a background check, allowing landlords to see vital aspects of a rental applicant’s financial decisions, references, and past behaviour. Typically, landlords use three major credit bureaus to obtain a background check: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. SingleKey uses Equifax. A comprehensive background check will provide landlords with the best results.

A few components may reflect negatively on an applicant’s background check, mainly a poor credit history. A long history of bad financial choices makes a tenant seem unreliable. Ultimately, a landlord is looking for someone reliable who will pay the rent on time and not destroy their property. Other elements considered unfavourable include a criminal history and eviction history.

Our final thoughts

With SingleKey’s Tenant Report, you can quickly fill a vacancy with quality tenants. From the tenant screening and application approval, to the collection of the security deposit and the rent payments, you can rely on SingleKey to aid you throughout the rental process.

Table of contents


Daily poll

Table of contents