Is it terribly unusual to weed out unqualified applicants by requesting a paper application before showing them the property? There is no fee.
@Jeff Gates - I would say that its more common to "pre-qualify" the potential tenant over the phone first. A prospective tenant is not likely to fill out an application for a home they have not seen.
Have a list of questions that you are ready to ask them on the phone. If they lie over the phone they will lie on the application too....
Just my 2 cents.....
Ask them some qualifying questions over the phone, then after that show them the property and have them fill out a paper application if they like the property.
I don't do appointments unless they have already completed the $35 credit check. Anyone who has gone that far is likely serious. Usually I have set open house appointments where people can come by and see the place, drop off applications, etc. If you do the other way expect some people to never show up.
Step 1. Pre qualify over the phone. Tell me about yourself, your credit, your income. Why and when do you want to move? Price range? Pets? etc.
Step 2. Have them text or email a copy of there picture id. If they complain, the do not qualify.
Step 3. Have a lock box on vacant units so you can give them the code to enter the unit. This will save you a bunch of time if you are not local.
Step 4. They fill out application and PayPal or deposit $35 app fee. You do credit check, call landlords, verify income, call their references etc.
Step 5. Always sign a lease in person. Make it clear that you will file for an eviction the first day they are late and any other lease violation.
**For non local property managers, install cameras on all your properties so you can keep an key on the property and also provide security for your tenants ;)
When I rented, the agency gave me a one time code for the house to check it out myself.
Then, if I liked it, I filled out the app and went from there, which is exactly what I did.
Saves time. Of course, they did a quick screen before they trusted me with the code. I could have trashed or stolen things from the rental, so checking first is smart.
Great tips in this thread. I only do distance rent to owns so can't personally show. I have the applicant txt me a photo of their drivers licenses then I give them the lock box code.
I always talk over each applicant's job, income and SAVINGS. In my GA market a huge indicator of financial health and good sense is if they have a bank account with more than the move in cash in it. It's shocking how many applicants have no checking account yet have 2 decent jobs.
I use MrLandlord.com (pain to get setup) or http://www.ctcredit.net/ same outfit but easier to get setup. I don't use the services where the applicant sets up their side and enters their SSN, DOB, DL. My app collects all that plus phone numbers of relatives. You'll want the relatives info if they skip out plus the personal info to give to the collection agency.
I primarily use ctcredit.com because it gives me a complete credit report, all debt and PAYS ON TIME. It's not the FICO or the amount of debt, it's do they pay their bills on time. Plus I get a list of past rentals that you MUST compare to your application. It's a huge red flag if the most recent address is different. Usually means eviction.
Always call past landlords not to get a good reference, but to verify they aren't being evicted. Rarely will you get the truth from a past landlord.
Call all job references to verify employment. Quiz the person on the other end in such a way to discover if you are really talking to the applicant's brother. Don';t trust pay stubs. Search on craigslist.org "fake pay stubs". There's industrious folks selling fake pay stubs. I haven't run across one...
I would agree with Jd Martin. Open Houses are the way to go in my opinion. I don't waste my time with appointments because half the time the tenant never shows up. I normally do Sunday from 1 - 2 pm and Wednesday from 6:30 - 7:30. I'll have a few little projects still left to be done so I have something to do. It also creates a sense of excitement having 2, 3 or 4 groups coming to look at the place. "I better grab it now before someone else grabs it"!