When it comes to managing a rental property, a bad tenant can be worse than an empty property. Property damage, late payments and lease default are just a few of the time consuming and expensive problems that can happen with a bad tenant. Fortunately, the application process provides a chance to weed out the good tenants from the bad. There are several things landlords can do to help protect themselves: Take the time to put together a complete screening process; be aware of federal fair housing laws; inform applicants of lease terms at the beginning; take time to check references, and stick to the standards you began with. Put it in writing, and include all of the things that you expect from your future tenant because the screening process relies on a comprehensive lease application. While the most time consuming part of the screening process is checking the references an applicant provides, it is also the most vital part of choosing the right person for the property.