Does anyone use online applications for your rental units?

10 Replies

Hi all, 

Wondering if it makes sense to move to online applications with our rentals.  Sometimes it is difficult to read the handwriting of the applicants.  Has anyone had any success with this?  What tools/system do you use?  

Thank you!

We use online applications though Buildium, our property management software and it works great.

@Monica McLaurin I use Cozy.co for applications and background screening. Very easy to use, and I have not had any complaints from prospective tenants.  The applicant can pay for the background screening, eliminating the hassle of collecting an application fee.

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Has anyone used google forms for this?

For those of you who use on-line apps, how valuable is the information you receive?  Does it make a difference in your tenant selection?

Also, do you use on-line payments as well?

Thanks everyone for your feedback!  

Our tenants are low-income.  Do you think that makes a difference or do you think everyone these days has access to online?  @Paul Ronto

@Jim Adrian - I was wondering the same thing.  Looking into Google Forms has been on my to-do list for some time now.  For this exact purpose.  

I think most people have access. I could be wrong on this, but with almost all phones having web access these days, even if they don't have a computer at home, they may have access on their phone, or have access to a computer at work or at the library. I know it could be a barrier for a small number of people but it's not a huge one, you could bring your laptop and meet them at a coffee shop if needed, in my mind, it's still better than a paper app. 

@Katherine S.   as for your question, I use it to screen every prospect I see. There is a ton of value in the answers people provide in their application. I customize my application a little as well per property to make sure I am getting the right people in each unique unit. I also am collecting rent online, it's is a game changer to me, it's limiting the number of excuses tenants can make for being late, and it's allowing me to account for funds more easily since it's all recorded and maintained in one place rather than checks coming in from different tenants at different times. No chance of losing a check ever again!

We do online applications through AppFolio, and it's a great solution. I imagine they're somewhat similar to Buildium or Cozy.co. Applicant pays online, they can complete the application on their phone, snap photos of paystubs, photo ID, etc, rather than having to give you paper copies of all of that. Much simpler, and no need to struggle over handwriting or typing information from the paper copy to some online form, so there are time savings there as well.

I would have some concerns about using Google Forms for this since you're collecting sensitive information (SSN) and are also getting legal permission to run someone's credit, which is a hard inquiry. You'll need to collect a legal signature for the application for those reasons, and Google Forms may not be able to do so. Using a professional solution for online applications would eliminate the risk from those items, so I'd seriously consider using Cozy.co if you're just looking to start as I believe that's free to you, while AppFolio or Buildium are much more comprehensive property management platforms with screening features built-in.

@Jim Adrian We use google forms, but not applicants go for the online option in our area. A lot of people still want to fill out the paper or get the PDF and fill it out and scan it back. Either way it's nice when people do use it, any applications get submitted to a spreadsheet in our google drive and we also get notified via email. It makes it very easy to track. 

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