Rental App Questions

3 Replies

I own 1 rental but used a realtor to find my tenants, and now that I've decided to start an actual business, I want to try to do most things myself, and recently just had an offer accepted on a 2nd rental (and now I'm a ball of nerves lol).  A couple of questions about the rental application.  Trying to read all I can and nail down my process now.

1. If a husband/wife or whatever combination of adults want to rent from me, do BOTH need to be screened separately and both need to submit rental applications?

2. If I take an application fee of 30.00, do I take 30 for the husband and 30 for the wife?  I plan to use mysmartmove, so I'm assuming it will charge me 2 times for 2 people.

3.  If a potential tenant doesn't fill it out in front of you, and takes it home, how do you receive them?  Do you have them mail it?  Scan and email it?  

4. I would assume it's better (for me) to take an application fee at time of receiving the application, and pay for it on mysmartmove, so that way if I disqualify someone before even getting there, I get to keep it.  ALSO, I don't have to wait for a response on the tenant's side to set up an account and agree to allow me to screen? 

6. What if a tenant claims that this is their first time renting, and they have no prior landlords?  Do you eliminate them or what else do you use or ask to try to consider them?

7. And not that much related to the rental app, but:  If I have a tenant that notifies me they are going to be moving out of my house in 30 days, at what point might i be able to put my rental back on the market?  Can I show it to new potential tenants in the last 30 days of the old tenants' stay?

Thank you!

Hi @David Roberts  and congrats on your business.  Here are my thoughts:

1) Yes, screen all adults separately.  Run credit and background checks on both.  Usually your application will request all of the information you need on all co-applicants to accomplish this with one application.  If not, have them complete a separate one.

2) Yes, usually screening companies charge per applicant.  To screen two applicants would cost you two fees.

3)I have a fax number that scans into my email.  I'll also take them directly by email.  Whatever is easier for the applicant.  I'm planning a website for my property management business that will allow prospective tenants to apply online.

4) I haven't used mysmartmove so I don't know their pocesses, but I'd caution you against taking an application fee and not completing the full screening process.  If you find that someone has an automatic disqualifier on their application, or you rented to someone else before you could screen all applicants and there was no cost to you, refund the application fee.  It's just the right thing to do, IMHO.

5)  Identify your criteria upfront.  One factor should not automatically disqualify a prospective applicant unless it's a big one (like criminal history, evictions, etc.).  I use income at 3x monthly rent, credit, job and prior landlord references, and have a scoring system for each factor, and a minimum required score to approve the application.

6) As for showing the property, what does your lease say about showing the property while the tenant is still in it?  I guess depending on the market this may or may not be worthwhile.  Personally I do not show an occupied home, and I've learned to not show a property during rehab.  My best results come from showing a 100% rent ready home.

Hope that helps! Good luck to you!

1.If a husband/wife or whatever combination of adults want to rent from me, do BOTH need to be screened separately and both need to submit rental applications?

Answer: Anyone who will be a tenant in the rental home needs to go through the screening process, and both must sign the contract. (I made everyone over the age of 21 who would be living in the rental unit be on the Lease Agreement, sign it and pay am application fee.. As an incentive, if they qualified and I rented to them, I would deduct the application fee from their move in fees.

2.If I take an application fee of 30.00, do I take 30 for the husband and 30 for the wife? I plan to use mysmartmove, so I'm assuming it will charge me 2 times for 2 people.

Answer: You will charge the same application fee for anyone and everyone who applies.

3.If a potential tenant doesn't fill it out in front of you, and takes it home, how do you receive them? Do you have them mail it? Scan and email it?

Answer: They can take it home if they want, but the first person who applies and qualifies gets the home. They will be taking a chance if they don’t fill it out now. They must return the Application with the application fees for the credit checks, and don’t accept checks.

Only accept cash for application fees (Credit checks) If you don’t accept only cash, and they write you a check, they can cancel the check if they don’t qualify and you are stuck paying for their credit check.

4.I would assume it's better (for me) to take an application fee at time of receiving the application, and pay for it on mysmartmove, so that way if I disqualify someone before even getting there, I get to keep it. ALSO, I don't have to wait for a response on the tenant's side to set up an account and agree to allow me to screen?

Your application criteria must include a disclaimer that this is a non-refundable application fee, unless the applicant(S) qualify for the rental and you rent to them. Then it will be refunded in whole. The Criteria must be for everyone and not changed in any way.

5.What if a tenant claims that this is their first time renting, and they have no prior landlords? Do you eliminate them or what else do you use or ask to try to consider them?

You application criteria must include what will qualify them. They must not have any previous evictions. Must be employed for at least one year. Must make at least three times the amount of rent as income. Must have proof of employment. So if these little newbies haven’t rented before, and they meet your requirements, whatever they may be, then I would see no need to not rent to them.

You have to train your tenants anyway, so you might as well start with some fresh youngin(s). (Please see my Blog called “The Tenant Phase)

6.And not that much related to the rental app, but: If I have a tenant that notifies me they are going to be moving out of my house in 30 days, at what point might I be able to put my rental back on the market?

Oh how sweet it is to be this innocent? J If you have a normal move out, and the tenant moves out within the 30 day period, you are one lucky guy. If they “Hold Over”, then they are legally responsible for paying that next month’s rent.

A 30 day notice must be given for a FULL MONTHS NOTICE. If they moved in on November 1st and want to move out on January 1, 2015, then they must give you their 30 day notice no later than November 31st. If they gave you a notice that they were moving on December 1st, then that is not a full months’ notice. It must be a full month’s rental notice.

The same notice you would need to give them if you wanted to not renew their lease agreement. You would give them a full months’ notice (30 days)

Can I show it to new potential tenants in the last 30 days of the old tenants' stay?

Yes, but it’s tough sometimes to do this. Causes a lot of problems. The rental unit is a mess, and trust me, people can’t see beyond the mess when they are looking to rent a house or buy one. And, the tenant may not move out when they are supposed to.

You can advertise it, have interested parties be put on a waiting list for it, but I never showed my homes unless the house was empty and ready to show. But, some landlords do. But you need to call and give the tenant at least a 24 hour notice. Or whatever your state law requires.

As a newbie, familiarize yourself with the City ordinances of where your properties are located. Sit in some landlord/tenant court hearings, you will learn a lot! Study the landlord/tenant laws of your state.

Good luck to you.

Nancy Neville

Thanks for the responses, very helpful.

With regard to the rental app fee, I had definitely planned to return it if I didn't get to review that person's application because I approved someone else first.  Definitely.  It is the right thing to do and I try to be an honest person everywhere in my life.  Also wise to only take cash in this instance.

I think I will heed the advice of not showing the property until I have an empty house that is repaired and ready to go.  Good point.

You can never be too safe these days with the laws.  So many laws...

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