Don't Scare Away Your Best Applicants!

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Good tenants are gold.  Gold that is derived from good applicants.  Way too often, I am seeing advice on these forums that, if followed, will result in landlords losing some of their strongest applicants.

Probably the best known example, and one discussed on here frequently, is in setting the rent.  Not uncommonly, you will see people thinking that by setting the rent high compared to the market, they will get better tenants.  Fortunately, there are experienced people here who will correct that thinking.  The only people who will willingly pay over market rent are those people who don't have a lot of choices, those who know that there is some weakness in their application.  Setting the rent over market results in a worse applicant pool, not a better one.

That advice is pretty common on BP.  But people generally fail to extend the logic in obvious directions.

Just as people won't PAY more unless they have to, people won't PUT UP with more unless they have to.  You need to keep that in mind when deciding how onerous to make your application process.  There have been recent threads suggesting surprise visits to the applicants current home, and in-person visits to their listed place of employment.  When I was a tenant, I would never have accepted this.  I didn't have to; I was an excellent prospect with a good job, good credit, and a solid history.  The only people who will put up with an onerous process are those who HAVE TO, because they don't have any choices.

Just something to keep in mind.

Spot on and sage advice.  You catch the fish you set your net for....

Excellent points, I completely agree.  We always set our rents a little below market so we can get a lot of applicants, and then choose the best one.

Another recommendation I see here a lot is people doing a lot of prescreening on the phone before showing their unit to a prospective tenant.  I can understand maybe asking one or two questions over the phone (though I don't), but some people seem to have a huge list of questions the person must answer before the landlord will "bother" to show them the rental.  This kind of falls under the onerous application process you mentioned, but I just wanted to point it out.  Callers are customers, and I want to get as many in as possible so that we can sell them on our unit, rather than coming across as some nit-picky landlord who's probably going to be a pain to deal with.  Sure, that means we'll have some showings that are a waste of time, but that's why we schedule several showings close together so we're likely to at least get a couple good ones, and they also see that there's a lot of demand for the unit.