The best way to collect application fee

9 Replies

During my house showing, I find that most people prefer taking the application form back home to fill out. Usually, they can scan and email me the form in one or two days. However, I may have to meet an applicant again to collect $30 fee or give him/her my home address to mail a check.

What is the best way to collect such small fee with minimum effort? Any comment is highly appreciated. 

@Dave Lin  

Use a service like smartmove.com and allow them to pay them the funds directly when they enter their application. You'll get the results quickly and the only thing they will have to give you is basic information and an email address. Everything else is automated. You can set up an account for free. I think it is also a BP referred resource; see the link under resources.

Is it mysmartmove.com? Thanks.

Yes, I stand corrected, that is the website address.

I would never accept a personal check. Only cash or money order.

I have a UPS mailbox, they can drop it off at the UPS Store.

I have done Paypal but if you deny them, I think they may be able to reverse the charge if they contest it later.

Are you accepting applications one at a time on a first come first serve basis, and only accept the next one when this one failed screening, or are you accepting multiple applications and do simultaneous screenings to pick the best candidate?

I do the former and so I actually schedule a meeting with the applicant at the property a second time to collect the application.  They get to look at the place a second time, ask more questions, I get to collect the app and fee.  A small amount yes but my whole point to meet them a second time is to really prescreen them.  I will look through their application and make sure EVERYTHING is filled in.  Even though I put in bold letters to fill in all blanks most will only fill in what they feel like filling in at the time.  I will also ask them for their driver's license and verify it against the DL number on the form, make sure their spelling of names are correct, make sure their DOB is June 9 and not Sep 6 etc...and ask them face to face about potential issues, pets, their current landlord, references etc...that works for me.

Hi Dave Jermaine here, we lay out all the instructions in the add which includes pet info,security deposit info, rent info and application fee info.

About your address never never gave a tenant your home address, we have a post office box but the one with a street address instead of a box number.

We do take personal checks, it usually takes a couple of days to run the application and by that time the is usually cleared.

Kimberly, UPS mailbox is a good idea. I probably need one for the rent each month.

Sam,  it makes sense to meet the potential tenant twice. I will modify the application process a little bit as following: I will review all applications and select the best candidate to meet and take the application fee. That is one more opportunity to interview the candidate.

Jermaine, I don't know a post office box with street address. Will definitely check.

Thank you all for the good suggestions. Will try the new procedure this time.

@Dave Lin  

We are also in the northwest suburbs, although not quite as far out as Lake Zurich.

In our area, I would not advise taking applications without an application fee. Otherwise, you will get a zillion unqualified applications because if it's free, people figure why not apply. I would charge something upfront.  I'm sure you're aware that Invitation Homes has a ton of rental single family homes in our area. They charge $50 per adult so $30 should be fine.  I tell people their application won't be processed until they pay the fee, so I have them email the application and drop off the fee at the UPS store.

You can suggest that people fill out the application when you meet them instead of taking it with. When they ask for the application, say,"Here's the application, here is a pen, here's a place to sit to fill out the application, let me know if you have any questions". If they say they need to think about it, I let them take it with, but 9 times out of 10 you never hear from them again.

Don't give out your home address. You never know what kind of wacko that could be upset with you; you don't need them knowing where you live.

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