Help! Picking the right applicant is HARD!

22 Replies

So I know this is a good problem to have. I have 3 applicants who I would most likely rent to. I still need to run background checks. Here’s the good and bad on each:

Applicant 1:

Older lady (likely to stay longer), has one dog so I can charge pet deposit, will have son living with her temporarily, no debt, college educated, doesn't work but receives VA benefits and SS, volunteers at hospice and local church school, no debt. Her income is a couple hundred below my requirement of 3x rent but is willing to put a higher deposit down or buy down the rent. Does not have prior landlord references as she has been taking care of her late mothers home.

Applicant 2:

Younger couple with good jobs, new to the area so new with their employers (1-2 mo), no kids, no pets, college educated, put on application that they plan to live their 1 year.

Applicant 2:

Younger couple with good jobs, been with their employers a while, wants me to fence in yard but willing to help pay for it, has 1 dog, no kids, college educated, put on application that they plan to live their 1 year.

I have good feelings on all of them, however the younger couples who put only 1 year on the application worry me as tenant turnover is where I spend the most money. Any feedback and advice is much appreciated.

Applicant 2.  All day.

I'd go with applicant 1 but I'd find out how long she plans to stay, she may be a long term tenant of more than one year.

I like #1, however, I would be concerned about the temporary son. Can he be added as an occupant?

Thanks everyone. @Michael Noto why would you go with #2?

Tenant #1 plans to stay long term but I am concerned with the son as well. I have not met him yet, he e-mailed his application.

Background and credit checks may clarify your choices considerably I think you need to do that asap.  I also lean toward #2 based on this information.  Also, need to check previous landlord references for #2 and 3.  Not only is there an income issue with #1 but apparently she isn't used to paying rent so her personal spending patterns and budget will need to change to pay you.  If she had a large savings account representing the rent for the period that she lived in her relative's house.

Thanks Victor! She was paying the mortgage on her mothers house. She is just below the minimum requirements but has guaranteed income. If I did go with her I could have her buy down rent $100/mo to meet the income qualifications. Since she doesn't have prior references I was thinking of showing up at her mothers house to see how she lives.

I would start the full screening with #2. If they pass take them.

#1 son sounds like dead beat, no landlord history. Pass

#3 making requests of landlords is a no. They should be renting a place that has what they need not expecting landlord to add.

First thing is to ignore your feelings. Screening applicants is about facts not feelings. Do the full screening and confirm with employer and previous landlord. Make sure their drivers licences match the info they are providing regarding address etc. Check for evictions, young people tend to be irresponsible and may have bad credit.

Make sure you only have them on a M2M lease.  If they are good tenants they will agree. 

What are the qualifications you require? Which candidate best meets those? Who has the rent and deposits now and is ready to sign at least a one year lease? This is a business decision, and should not be based on how you feel about the candidates, but how they qualify, meet the financial obligations, have adequate background/reference checks, etc.

Do not make this decision based on your feelings, but base it on the facts.

All have the money needed and will sign a 1 yr lease. I have started checking #2 background and they are checking out so far. thank you everyone!

#2 both incomes, NO dog, no yard demo, and less wear and tear on unit, regardless of pet deposit or rent.

#1 Has limited resources does not meet income requirements, and son is a big flag

#3 Why fence yard ? for them and again wear and tear dog... 

Go with #2 no pet people and ask if they'll agree to no pets in the future. 

Originally posted by @Chris Virgil-Stone :

So I know this is a good problem to have. I have 3 applicants who I would most likely rent to. I still need to run background checks. Here’s the good and bad on each:

Applicant 1:

Older lady (likely to stay longer), has one dog so I can charge pet deposit, will have son living with her temporarily, no debt, college educated, doesn't work but receives VA benefits and SS, volunteers at hospice and local church school, no debt. Her income is a couple hundred below my requirement of 3x rent but is willing to put a higher deposit down or buy down the rent. Does not have prior landlord references as she has been taking care of her late mothers home.

Applicant 2:

Younger couple with good jobs, new to the area so new with their employers (1-2 mo), no kids, no pets, college educated, put on application that they plan to live their 1 year.

Applicant 2:

Younger couple with good jobs, been with their employers a while, wants me to fence in yard but willing to help pay for it, has 1 dog, no kids, college educated, put on application that they plan to live their 1 year.

I have good feelings on all of them, however the younger couples who put only 1 year on the application worry me as tenant turnover is where I spend the most money. Any feedback and advice is much appreciated.

It is not hard.

In reviewing apps, you're looking for proof of "responsibility"

Ask yourself:

Are they qualified (high credit score, 3x income /no commission or tip income, good history, etc)?

Who is the best fit for this property?

How long have they lived in the area? Are they committed to staying in this area?

Do they have experience living in this type of property? Can they take care of this property?

Call them directly. Are they overly demanding?  Will they be easy to work with?

Even if they meet all requirements on paper, if they're overly demanding and I feel like I won't be able to control them...I will not accept them.

If you find a responsible tenant and the property has a yard, accepting pets with pet deposit is fine, and required if it's a standard to accept pets in that area..  It will get them to stay longer and, if they are responsible, it'll be fine.

You should not expect nor attempt to 'control' tenants; you manage the property, and tenants are your customers. When the customer and the company agree to contract terms, your management is limited to checking monthly deposits and staying up on repairs. When the contract is violated, management (you) must determine the extent of the issue, and either to correct the issue or find a new customer. 

When your expectations of this relationship become about how you feel, you will find it difficult to decide how and when it's time to end the relationship. Newly minted landlords often make choices based more on feelings, instead of facts. Choose to establish your decision-making on facts, and your business will thank you

Go with #2 or #3, but finish screening so you can see their job history and landlord references first!

#1: Possible cat-lady. Son could be a criminal. No references. Potential painful tenant/eviction

#2: Fairly ideal if their work history/landlord history checks out

#3: Sounds like they want to leave in a year. Are fenced yards in high demand? Let them pay for it (with your approvals and your contractors). If they leave in 1 year then raise the rent and market an improved property

I went with #2. Wife had good credit, husband not so much but only due to student loans. Both make good incomes. I appreciate all the feedback. The only reason I was leaning toward #1 was due to length of stay and guaranteed income. I have dealt with high tenant turnover prior to this as I was located near a military base. The son factor did bother me. Hopefully all goes well.

@Chris Virgil-Stone Never and I mean never rent to these single women that have their adult son living with them. The son is almost always a past drug user with no job that the mom could never cut the cord to. Once this son gets in you are powerless to get him out. As you rent more you will get more in tune as to what to look for and what not.  In renting you can care less about the exception to the rule. Your working on averages. 

@Jay C. I partially agree with you, I was that son at one time. However I was in college and working. He did have a job but could have a past. She looked over the qualifications which states no prior drug convictions of any kind and no felonies within past 5 yrs, favorable credit, no evictions etc. I do see where you're coming from and will definitely keep that in mind! Thank you.

I used RentecDirect for screening and was very pleased. This was my first time using it.

My experience has been that seniors make great tenants.  Put son on the lease and both parties sign it.

You should vet the BG check before making ANY decision, however.

It sounds like #2 is checking out so this may be a moot point... just the same... I want to throw out one more concern about #1 - yes son is a huge red flag, especially if he has no job. The other thing that concerns me is she has no w2 income so you have little recourse if she defaults. You can't garnish her SS check or VA disability check. When looking at it as a business, which others have recommended, I'm looking at a) who meets requirements and of those people b) who can I collect against if something goes south or their priorities shift away from paying rent

So I went with #2 who ended up with some student loan debt issues. those are not so worrying. tenant has been great so far. no issues whatsoever

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