First time listing an apartment for rent

7 Replies

Hi BP community, 

I wanted to get some help with 5 questions I had regarding listing my apartment. 
First question:
I am listing my rental apartment for the first time. I bought the landlord forms for my state on BP and I am ready to roll. I saw that the Rhode Island LL forms come with an application. I am a little confused if I have the potential tenant fill out the application first or give me a copy of their credit history and background check first. Could someone please let me know which comes first? 

Second question:
I listed my apartment on both Cozy and Zillow. So far, I have a few candidates coming from the Zillow and not from Cozy. I know Cozy provides a service for background and credit checks. Not sure if Zillow allows the same service and if they do, I am not sure how to enable this. I was hoping I would get people coming from Cozy but that is not the case. 

Third question:
What do you all use to market your vacancies? Cozy hasnt been doing what I was hoping it would do. 

Fourth Question:
Does everyone have a tenant screening policy? I downloaded one from BP and it pretty sums up what I want in a tenant. Should I have that along with the application? 

Firth Question:
I want to make sure the tenant will have enough money to pay the rent. what percentage do you use to determine if the applicant will be able to make the rent payment? their debt cannot exceed what percentage of their income? 

Thank you all


  1. Typically you might have some "pre-screen" questions such as asking them their monthly pre-tax income. They need to give you a number that is 3X the amount of the rent. So if rent is $1000. They need to make at least $3000 *before tax* monthly. Other than that, you show the property. And those interested would get the application from you. They would return the application completed, signed, and with copies of their IDs and proof of income. Everyone 18 years or older would need to do their own application. You would not process an application until they turn it in *complete*. Incomplete and you return it to them. Then you do the background/credit check via whatever website you want (Cozy or others).
  2. Doesn't matter where an applicant comes from. You simply set up the background/credit check via your website of choice and it'll send to them via email.
  3. I post on Zillow, Craigslist, Postlets, etc

Hi Tarcizio,

To answer your first question: Have you potential tenant fill out the application first, then you can go through with the screening process. There is free landlord software out there that you can utilize to screen your applicants (the applicant pays the fee rather than you). Secondly, there are software options, other than Cozy and Zillow, that will perform market syndication. This means your property listing will be posted to dozens of sites like,, etc. with one click! 

I would definitely include a rental criteria (and/or tenant screening policy) with your application that outlines income and credit requirements as well as how you treat those with a criminal or eviction history. 

To answer your final question, I would require 3x the monthly rent. This will make sure that the rent is covered on top of any other bills the tenant may have. In addition, when you screen tenants through the free landlord software there is typically a credit score minimum recommendation.

If you need any suggestions on landlord software, please feel free to reach out to me through personal message! Hope this helps!

They should pay you the application fee when they give you their application. That money is used to offset the cost of the credit check so you'll receive the application first, then run the credit check. I've heard great things about Cozy but I haven't used them. I use Buildium property management software. It's a one-stop shop for me because they syndicate my listings throughout multiple websites including Zillow, Trulia, etc etc. I get a good amount of leads from Zillow but like @Brent Kiger  said, Facebook Marketplace has quickly become my #1 lead generator for prospective tenants. Buildium also has a customizable rental application that allows renters to apply online. And they run my credit, background, and eviction checks (btw... I'm not affiliated with Buildium, I just love the service). I also attach my Application Process & Qualification Standards to my online application so prospective tenants can see my process & standards for approval before they apply (even though I don't think most of them read it). 

I'm not sure if BP will take it down, but here's the link to my online rental application so you can see how it's set up .