A few questions about tenant application/screening - opinions preferred!

13 Replies

I've been looking at a lot of stuff about handling the application/screening process with potential renters lately. There seem to be a lot of different styles, strategies, and utilities to make the whole thing as painless as possible, and it made me curious as to how you folks handled it.

  1. What's your application/screening process for potential renters like? Are there any particular tools you couldn't live without?
  2. Do you use a property manager? How heavily are they involved in the process? Has it ever burned you?
  3. What are the "gotchas" you've experienced? What are the things you'd never have thought of in a million years, until they happened to you?
  4. What's the most irritating or time-consuming part of the process?
  5. If you do use any special tools, where do they fall short?

Any other comments and thoughts are welcome, of course!

i use a tool that not everyone has. it's called "common sense". it's custom made years ago.

i require a lot of stuff and look at it all. i ask questions and listen. and i listen. and i observe their body language, their interactions, their kids, etc, etc. i look at income, i look at bills, i look at bank accounts.

that's it, really..

Originally posted by @George P. :
i use a tool that not everyone has. it's called "common sense". it's custom made years ago.

i require a lot of stuff and look at it all. i ask questions and listen. and i listen. and i observe their body language, their interactions, their kids, etc, etc. i look at income, i look at bills, i look at bank accounts.

that's it, really..

Hmm... will it run on an iPhone?

i doubt it. the code is too hard to make it mobile friendly.

I have used the same set of tools what @George P. but i also add credit check to my "toolbox" as well. I get it online for about $20 and charge that and a few extra for the time.

Credit must be good, or good up till a medical bankruptcy, or if credit is bad then i charge two moths of deposit AND make sure they have very stable employment.

Good Luck @Lane S. !

I like that look at the kids. Will the kids help you make a decision.

Joe Gore

Originally posted by @Val Csontos :
I have used the same set of tools what @George P. but i also add credit check to my "toolbox" as well. I get it online for about $20 and charge that and a few extra for the time.

Credit must be good, or good up till a medical bankruptcy, or if credit is bad then i charge two moths of deposit AND make sure they have very stable employment.

Good Luck @Lane S. !

My service increased to $30.. which one do you use?

Originally posted by @George P. :
i use a tool that not everyone has. it's called "common sense". it's custom made years ago.

"What app do you use?"

"Um ... my brain app."

Good one, George!

I really had to laugh out loud at some of the responses, but it I agree with the responses so far. Common sense/body language and eye contact is major in the pre screening process.

Prior to becoming a member on BP, a lot of my experience came from trial and error, I don't use a property manager , I am my property manager, so am involved in all aspects of the my rental properties.

Since joining BP, I have tightened up my lease a bit to include things I actually didn't think of from reading the discussions on various topics and situation pertaining to landlord issues.

Outside of reading/interpreting/ understanding and applying the local landlord tenant law, I learned quite a bit from just sitting in court for an unlawful detainer and hearing other landlords/PMs discuss unlawful detainer cases, prior to mine being called and I took notes to apply to my process.

The most irritating part of the process..

1. "No shows"

2. Folks who are late to the appointment. I give them 15 minutes. If they show up later and don't have a good excuse ("I got stopped by a train" for example) I don't rent to them. I've found that applicants that have poor time management for these appointments have poor time management for rent payments.

3. I make it CLEAR that we run a credit AND criminal check on every adult. It will cost each $30 for this. Even if one didn't run these checks, the mention of doing so is a good screen out.

4. Our local Marshal's office handles all the serving of dispossessory notices (i.e., evictions) in my county. They have a free website where one can go to search previous cases. It's an interesting read.

5. Folks who want to move in "right away" or are "living with mom" are often in these situations because a. they're about to be evicted from their current rental property or b. they've been evicted and are resting at moms because they have no other place to reside until they can find another sucker landlord to take them in.

6. Be aware that there are many services who will, for a fee, "clean up" (i.e., develop a fake) credit/income statement for those whose own credit or income statements would not pass muster. Run your own credit reports and view income statements carefully.

7. In my area, two power companies provide services. One is a smaller cooperative. I will sometimes hear applicants say they do not like to have service with this company because "they will cut your power off even if you are one day late in paying your bill". I find this is a very good screen out comment since, like this power company, I would simply be another creditor to this tenant.

8. While it is certainly tempting to get a rental unit filled with tenants, it is FAR better to have a unit sitting empty than having one filled with deadbeats while you are going through the eviction process with them. Keep that in mind if you are debating turning down applicants you may have questions about.

Gail

@Gail K. for your point 1,2, why not just have an open house say between 2-3 pm Saturday and tell everyone to come between 2 and 3? That is what we do and this way we never "wait" for anyone.

Also we never give out rental applications unless they pay the $30 first, because we have never seen one person to bring it back later with money.

@George P. i use www.quickbackgroundchecks.com ......their price list is a bit outdated as it says; credit check is $16 but when you actually purchase it it will be $20! Unless you buy hundreds/mo

Happy Investing!

If a landlord wanted to charge me $30 for a blank application I would have to look very hard at the landlord and his property because there is a good chance he dont have the money to keep his property up.

Joe Gore

@Joe Gore Good point! Let me give you the long version!

Years ago we had folks come to our open house for rentals, and we noticed than many would take copy of the application with them or some would complete one on site, and were telling us that they don't have cash on them but will be back in an hours etc.... with the fee or the application.

And out of say 25 people not one would EVER come back! So we came to the realization, there was no point to offer folks the application document, UNLESS they were serious about it and was ready and willing to make a minimal commitment with the application fee!

So nowadays during the 1.1/2 hours of open house, we only get maybe one or two applications completed with fees attached and both are pretty good candidates!

We no longer have to waist time with "flakes" and "tire kickers" they go on their own during the open house. We follow the KISS whenever it is feasible :)

Take Care, and

Regards

Ps on occasion we run into folks, who tell us they are shopping around, so for those, we tell them if they decide with our unit, to go ahead and send me an email/text to request the application, and I e-mail back one with instruction on how to send my the apps fee via Pay Pal. Those "shopper" types seems to like our process.

I would recommend you to have a tool that could manage the expense transaction between you two, that could also manage the time frame and the tasks as well. One such tool I have been using, I think so that would work well for you as well, the expense reporting tool from Replicon. The tool is featured with the cloud based, user friendly interface making the necessary arrangements to specify the things in the right perspective to stimulate the process.