Has anyone used Zillow rental applications? Your experience?

72 Replies

What is your experience with the quality of the rental application Zillow provides prospective tenants for $29?  Do you feel it provides sufficient and accurate information?

@Thomas P. I have recent experience with this.

So when I rented my house on Zillow I turned on option to accept applications. I figured why not try it.

I really like it. It is very detailed. I went ahead and ran the persons credit via residentresearch.com like I normally do to compare the reports.

I like how resident research approves, declines or says conditional with more deposit. They make the decision for me.

On Zillow I have to look at everything and be the person accepting or declining which puts the liability on me if someone complained that I turned them down.

I do like how I can tell people to just go to Zillow and apply.

The people I just signed a lease with applied before they even saw the house. So I knew if I was wasting my time or not.

Apparently that had applied to another house but someone beat them to it so the applied their application to my property at no extra expense to them.

So yes I really like it and it is very accurate.

Does Zillow replace the need for rental applications? I just listed my first property on Zillow and have seen great volume of leads but I am uncertain with the overall process. Do I still need to request a rental app? If anyone has intimate knowledge of the Zillow process please give me some tips... I am a newbie after all!!

I have the same question.  I like the convenience of it, and the "common application" feel to keep applicants from spending a fortune on applications in our tight rental market area.  However, I would like to know more details on work and rental history, why they are moving, etc.  It would be nice to have a form to identify and pre-qualify, prior to showing, then send them to a next step to apply with a fee.  I hate to waste anyone's time and money.    

I was just looking into Zillow rent application.  I have been using Smart Move for years.  I am trying Zillow today for the first time on some seemingly low risk applicants.  I will have to let you know how it goes.  

I just tried the applications service and was not happy with the results. It's a canned solution that doesn't give the landlord any control over the process, and has some gaping holes for information that is usually needed to screen a tenant. 

First, the social security number is optional on the application, so if they don't provide it you may not get a background check, just a notice that says "background check unavailable." Somehow, they are able to generate a credit report without one, and that is rather strange to me. 

On the application, you get pretty basic responses to their work history and living location history. There aren't many opportunities to collect the more explanatory information that is sometimes need to explain frequent job changes or moves. You also cannot modify the application questions. What you get is really basic. It's also very hard to save or print the application. I think they think you will always return to the website to view it, which presents other problems. 

One glaring omission to this application is the required statement that every application should have - the statement authorizing the landlord to contact employers and past landlords and for those organizations to release information to you. Most corporate employers and property management companies absolutely require a faxed or emailed copy of this statement with the applicant's signature. You do not get the release authorization nor the signature with the Zillow Application. 

Now for the credit report. Zillow uses Experian to provide the credit summaries. I say summary because you won't get a full credit file. You will get a version of the credit score with a suggestion about how bad it is, and then a summary of the rest of their credit history. For many, this may be fine, but I encounter lots of people with mixed credit histories and would rather not go on just that score, but read through the report and decide for myself how much of a risk they are based on what sorts of issues they have had. Regardless, the reports that are provided on Transunion's Smartmove (and Credit Karma for that matter) are far more detailed and useful. 

Also, background check report seems to be optional thru Zillow. Need I list anything more?

Originally posted by @Mark Fries :
@Thomas P.

I love it! Use it weekly

Hey there. I have had a couple people submit their applications and pay the $29 and it has been THREE DAYS and I have still NOT received them. Have you had this problem?

Thanks!

Originally posted by @Anna Buffkin :

I was just looking into Zillow rent application.  I have been using Smart Move for years.  I am trying Zillow today for the first time on some seemingly low risk applicants.  I will have to let you know how it goes.  

 in beginning I used  a credit research website, I can't recall which one. 

Then I discovered smart move, and I used it quite a few times,  and for me it seemed that it is really amazing, just curious how you found it? (And why would you even try a different one,  of you were 100% happy).

Thank you

I used the Zillow rental application for the first time.  It will not allow me to open the background and credit checks.  I get an error message that says, "something went wrong! We are unable to process your request for screening reports at this time. Contact customer support for help."  It does not tell you what the issue is. I've submitted several requests to customer service with no response.  Tried calling the corporate phone number and went through the menu for customer service and you can only leave a message on voicemail...still no response.  I've even tried calling different extensions off the main number and no one picks up their phone.  I'm beginning to wonder if there are any humans that work there at all.

Very frustrated and disappointed  with Zillow.  I will never use this service again. I'm ready to file a complaint with the FTC.

@Nathan Simons I have had the same issue. I even tested the application by process by filing one myself. Well, I was charged the $29 but I never received the application results on the zillow rental listing. THIS IS EXTREMELY PROBLEMATIC. 

I would not recommend anyone to allow tenants to apply via Zillow. Please remove this option from any of your listings!

hmmm.....I used it to fill my last vacancy in my sfh and liked it overall...but some of the application was very basic and even omitted some very basic info.....example no Date of birth...???  I guess because you cannot discriminate age of tenant...but i feel this is basic info that i'd like to know regardless.  So what i did was reviewed the applications and picked out the more qualified ones and sent them follow up emails asking them to provide more info...

but other than that....it is convenient.  i'll use it again.

If Zillow's application is somewhat watered down as some are saying, then why not use Zillow to make initial contact and screen potential tenants but then follow up with a more detailed Application of your own to make the final decision?  Just curious because I have a great Application of my own but am just now starting to use Zillow's Application feature.  I have not yet run through the process with Zillow all the way but have a few requests for Applications from potential renters.

We used Zillow for the first (and last) time last week. We did not receive the application. 

The potential tenant mentioned via phone that they were going to apply. We didn’t get it, so we texted them two days later saying we didn’t get it. Going back and forth for a week and us and them getting Zillow involved has not led to any results. Zillow says they are “looking into it”. That potential tenant informed us they will be looking at other properties to avoid this hassle. Net, we lost a potential tenant due to Zillow. 

Background: this is a $2200/month property. 

The good news is that we found some chinks in the communication capabilities. They are a young couple, not married. The latest text said that we would have to follow up with her boyfriend to get a question answered that had to do finances because that is “his department”. 

I have't used the rental application Zillow provides. I've been using Tellus, which has a third-party platform to do tenant screening and it's totally free. The report is comprehensive with all the information I want, like credit score, rental history, criminal background, employment and verification. 

I installed Tellus to try it. You have to ask them to add your property to their database before you can collect a rental app. I messaged their support staff but no response so far, about 10 minutes.  

If they don't respond quickly, I can't use their system. I will lose the tenant if I make them wait before they can fill out an application.

Updated over 2 years ago

Its been over an hour with no response from them. I guess I have to wait until a weekday. That renders their system useless for me.

I tried SmartMove, but from what I can see, I have to invite tenants to apply by putting their email address into the system.  There is no way to create a link that I can share with people.

The other thing I like about Zillow is the applicant is able to add other people to their application.  Most of the time, one person contacts me to apply but they have a spouse.  It's easy for me to point them to the Zillow page about my property, have them click the "Apply Now" button, and fill everything in themselves. Sometimes, they do that before contacting me.

Originally posted by @John Underwood :

@Thomas P. I have recent experience with this.

So when I rented my house on Zillow I turned on option to accept applications. I figured why not try it.

I really like it. It is very detailed. I went ahead and ran the persons credit via residentresearch.com like I normally do to compare the reports.

I like how resident research approves, declines or says conditional with more deposit. They make the decision for me.

On Zillow I have to look at everything and be the person accepting or declining which puts the liability on me if someone complained that I turned them down.

I do like how I can tell people to just go to Zillow and apply.

The people I just signed a lease with applied before they even saw the house. So I knew if I was wasting my time or not.

Apparently that had applied to another house but someone beat them to it so the applied their application to my property at no extra expense to them.

So yes I really like it and it is very accurate.

John, this is super late but hoping maybe you've had enough experiences with this that you could help? We just used Zillow applications and are a bit confused on how to read the credit reports they sent back...turns out they are not full credit reports but summaries.

Closed accounts don't say if they were paid in full, charged off, etc. Any idea how to read those? For example, we're seeing a lot of different scenarios under Closed Accounts

a) XX account - $0

b) XX account - 

c) XX account-$12,392 

We assume (a) is a paid in full closed account, not sure about b, and really not sure about c!

Thanks.

Originally posted by @Alicia Ro :
Originally posted by @John Underwood:

@Thomas P. I have recent experience with this.

So when I rented my house on Zillow I turned on option to accept applications. I figured why not try it.

I really like it. It is very detailed. I went ahead and ran the persons credit via residentresearch.com like I normally do to compare the reports.

I like how resident research approves, declines or says conditional with more deposit. They make the decision for me.

On Zillow I have to look at everything and be the person accepting or declining which puts the liability on me if someone complained that I turned them down.

I do like how I can tell people to just go to Zillow and apply.

The people I just signed a lease with applied before they even saw the house. So I knew if I was wasting my time or not.

Apparently that had applied to another house but someone beat them to it so the applied their application to my property at no extra expense to them.

So yes I really like it and it is very accurate.

John, this is super late but hoping maybe you've had enough experiences with this that you could help? We just used Zillow applications and are a bit confused on how to read the credit reports they sent back...turns out they are not full credit reports but summaries.

Closed accounts don't say if they were paid in full, charged off, etc. Any idea how to read those? For example, we're seeing a lot of different scenarios under Closed Accounts

a) XX account - $0

b) XX account - 

c) XX account-$12,392 

We assume (a) is a paid in full closed account, not sure about b, and really not sure about c!

Thanks.

 I'm not sure without seeing what your talking about. The credit score will ultimately reflect negative items. So if their are unpaid accounts or accounts in collections they will not have a great credit score.