Overwhelming renter response

3 Replies

I've been a landlord for 5+ years now and I've never had this kind of response to a listing so I need some suggestions. On Monday I posted a house for rent stating we need 1 more week to finish so I only had a pic of the front, garage and yard as the house is still a mess. So far I have received 22 phone calls and 11 emails about the house. I've told them all I'm showing it 600-630 next Tuesday to keep everybody in a nice tight time frame. What do I do if I have 20+ people show up and if even a handful put in applications? I've always done a first come, first serve for reviewing applications because of the fee, but what if I have people racing to fill out forms in the kitchen at the same time? Go with the one that finishes 30 seconds before the other? The screening service I use charges $50 a person/married couple so I don't like to take money from a bunch of people because it's a real cost for them and a hassle to give it back.

What are some strategies that you have used with high demand situations?

If you want, you can simply screen all the paper applications first to narrow down the ones that you would need to bother running credit/background checks on. For example, let's say you require 3x rent and don't allow pet dogs or past evictions. If you get 7 apps, and 2 admit to having pet dogs and another admits to a past eviction and yet another states a total income of only 2.5x rent, then you can just reject those without having to run the other checks on them.

Then, you can run the remaining 3 apps that look ok on paper, and pick the "best" one. For example, let's say they all meet your minimum requirements for credit and background. You will need to decide what criteria is most important to you in screening (credit score, total income, etc.). If 2 of the apps have a credit score in the low 600s and the other has a credit score of 750, then you might pick that one (if credit score is your deciding factor). If they all have similar credit scores (say, within 30 points of each other), then maybe you pick the one with the highest income.

You should decide before you take any apps what your criteria will be, and put it in writing so you have something to reference. For example, it may be something like this:

Minimum Requirements:

- Min credit score of 600

- No felonies

- No past evictions

- 3x rent as income

- No pet dogs

- Max of 2 people per bedroom

- Relatively clean car, non-slovenly appearance (no trash in car, no tattered clothes, etc.)

- (you probably have more criteria, etc.)

In the event of 2+ apps meeting the min requirements received within 2 days of each other (you could make this 1 day, or 3 days, or whatever):

- App with the highest credit score gets accepted first, if credit scores are more than XX points apart (20, 30, whatever you decide).

- If the 2 apps with the highest credit scores are within XX points of each other, the app with the highest total income gets accepted.

You could decide income is more important than credit score, or something else entirely, just decide your criteria and write it down. Be careful not to set criteria that could be considered discriminatory. For example, if you get 2 qualifying apps, one from a single person and one from a family with 2 kids, don't just pick the single person because it is "fewer people" because that could be considered discriminating based on familial status. Sure, fewer people means less wear on your unit, but not a risk I'd take.

This is the method I would use if receiving multiple qualifying apps. Some people say to go in the order they were received, but based on my research, that is not a legal requirement, so it's your choice (not that I'm a lawyer - not legal advice).

Wow, I just realized I wrote a freakin' book. Sorry, hope that all makes sense.

It should be clearly explained that the application fee is non refundable. That may weed some people out right there. Also you normally only get a portion of the people that contacted you to actually show up. If a lot of people do show up simply make sure you have plenty of applications on hand to give out. Then let you screening process do the work. Everyone that fills out an application may not qualify. (income verification, eviction record, past landlord references)

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We rent in high demand areas and usually get at least 10 showings in 1 night. We give tenants a deadline for applications, don't charge them to apply. Then we review them and choose our top one based on income, do a credit check and if they pass we let the others know. Only once did our first choice not pass based on credit at which point we called the second