Speaking to one of the multiple denied applicants about denial

51 Replies

Hi Everyone,

I am denying two applicants (co-applicants) that applied for one of my units.  The two applicants are not married.  I mainly communicate with one of the applicants.  After I denied them, she is asking for some more details as to why I won’t accept them.  How much info can I provide to the applicant that I’m talking to about the other applicant?  Can I say that their credit score didn’t meet my requirements?  Can I bring up a judgement?

Let me know what you think!

Thanks in advance

Marc

The only thing I would suggest saying is "Your application did not meet our criteria. As business practice, we do not discuss individual details."

Your only exception, is some states require you to explain if something from their credit report was used to deny them.

DO NOT GIVE THEM ANY DETAILS. SIMPLY YOU SELECTED THE MOST QUALIFIED APPLICANT. PERIOD!! Anything more could get you into trouble.

@Marc Izquierdo I would avoid specifics.

I would either say you did not meet our standard criteria and not answer any more questions.

You could also get it rented to someone else (if you have't already) and say you found a more qualified tenant.

@Andrew Boettcher , I don't think they have to explain anything in the credit report. But by law you may have to provide a letter saying which credit report you used. I would avoid all of that and just say you selected the best applicant.

I would not provide any details at all. Certainly you can't reveal details about the other applicant, you could get sued for that. Typically if you stop responding they get the message pretty quick.

Interesting.  Thanks for the quick responses everyone!  It’s a bit weird to me that I can just say “you did not meet the minimum standards” and provide no more info when they have paid application fees.  If it were me, I would want more info if I were denied but I guess it’s safer to keep it simple and provide the adverse action letter with the screening agency.

@John Underwood , if he states that the applicant didn't meet standard criteria, he will have to prove that he shared with the applicant what the standard criteria were before they applied. Otherwise the landlord could make up some criteria after the fact to justify declining them. Best to say you rented to a more qualified applicant and leave it at that.

Originally posted by @Ray Harrell :

@John Underwood, if he states that the applicant didn't meet standard criteria, he will have to prove that he shared with the applicant what the standard criteria were before they applied. Otherwise the landlord could make up some criteria after the fact to justify declining them. Best to say you rented to a more qualified applicant and leave it at that.

 As long as he has standard criteria that is used then he is fine. He does not have to share his criteria unless he gets called into court.

I did say as option 2 - Say you rented to a more qualified tenant.

My guess is that she may be wondering what the background check turned up on her boyfriend that she doesn't already know about.  

Just make sure your min standards are clear and in writing- they don't necessarily have to be given out but I do.  You have to be willing to defend your requirements, but you can always tell them they are dictated by management :)

It’s pa . Tell them nothing .. literally nothing . You owe them no explanation . In fact I would not even answer the phone when they call

@Marc Izquierdo , do you have your minimum standards written out? If so, include those in the note that says they didn't meet the minimum standards. They should be able to figure out why they didn't qualify. 

In WA you must provide your minimum qual criteria in writing when providing someone an application.

I  imagine more states will move in this direction.  Have your minimums in writing either way. Helps you and the applicant. The applicant you don't hear back from after reading your criteria saves you time and effort. 

Originally posted by @Marc Izquierdo :

Interesting.  Thanks for the quick responses everyone!  It’s a bit weird to me that I can just say “you did not meet the minimum standards” and provide no more info when they have paid application fees.  If it were me, I would want more info if I were denied but I guess it’s safer to keep it simple and provide the adverse action letter with the screening agency.

I am going to go against the common theme to not say why they were declined.  I understand everyone is afraid of a lawsuit, but I have no problem being transparent in my process.  I would feel shady otherwise.

I would simply say, "you were declined based on a judgement on your record."  Further, as per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if you used a credit report in your decision, you are OBLIGATED to tell them what credit report was used and why they didn't qualify on information on that credit report.

Most of my rejections are base on my criteria I give out BEFORE they apply.  This makes it easy because many folks think that their credit/criminal/eviction records won't give them away. Also, many are rejected based on the lies they put down in their application, like a fake landlord.  And yes, I do tell them that I caught them lying with the hope that they will never contact me again for an apartment.  Some don't have a rental history, so I really scrutinize those applications as most of the time, this is just untrue.  They may be hiding a bad landlord experience.

@David S.

"I would simply say, "you were declined based on a judgement on your record."

In this situation since the person asking is not the one that had the credit issue you can not answer the question. To tell her it was based on a judgement issue is revealing personal credit information of someone else which is illegal. This is the reason you never give any information, you never know what may come back to bite you. What may seem innocent in regards to being honest can and will be turned against you when dealing with what may be pi**ed off people. They also lie so maintain a standard policy of saying nothing.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

@David S.

"I would simply say, "you were declined based on a judgement on your record."

In this situation since the person asking is not the one that had the credit issue you can not answer the question. To tell her it was based on a judgement issue is revealing personal credit information of someone else which is illegal. This is the reason you never give any information, you never know what may come back to bite you. What may seem innocent in regards to being honest can and will be turned against you when dealing with what may be pi**ed off people. They also lie so maintain a standard policy of saying nothing.

I see the point.  I left out in my assessment that if someone else is asking about a co-applicant, I simply tell that person to have the co-applicant to contact me for more information.  I only give information directly to the applicant where there was an issue. I will not provide sensitive information to others without written consent.  My point is that I am not going to duck and dive to avoid pissing someone off.  I also have selfish reasons for letting them know the real reasons i.e. the person with the deficiency.  I would like them to never contact me in the future if the application is very bad.  All I need is to have the same bad apples wasting my  time on the phone and submitting another application. 

If denied based on the credit record, in the US, we are bound by FCRA. We must provide the reason to the applicant of the denial as well as the credit report used. With this denial, the applicant has the right to a free credit report. There is no ducking and diving or evading the reason for denial. You are legally obligated to provide the reason if based on the credit record.

Do not answer calls from applicants you reject. Email them a form letter that simply states their application has been rejected. Do not give a reason, do not talk over the phone where you can accidentally say something off-hand that can be used against you. That simple written communication can be the full extent of your interaction. If you feel like you owe them an explanation because you accepted an application fee, stop accepting application fees.

I have the minimum standards on the flyer and any posts about the rental.  It is plain and simple.  Most people will not apply if they know they do not meet the minimum standards.  Also before I accept and application I again go over the minimum requirements and explain that the $40 credit check fee is non refundable. 

If after all the front loaded advisement, they still apply, then the answer is:

After reviewing your application you do not meet the minimum standards and leave it at that.

In our litigious society and especially in California less is better, any further conversations or statements about the matter can just be used against you later.

So in a case where there are two or more applicants, if one of the applicants is denied but the others meet my minimum standards but since the one was denied, the combined income of the approved applicants doesn’t meet the income requirement, do you also send a denial letter to the “approved” applicants?  How is a situation like that handled since I can’t say to the approved applicants “you were approved but one of the other applicants was denied” (because then I’m giving away personal information)

Don't post minimum standards, because if someone meets the minimum standards and you still reject them for whatever reason you decide, it becomes that much more of a headache, especially when they feel cheated because you charged them a non-refundable fee. 

@Marc Izquierdo

When screening you do so as individuals but reject as a single entity. When one does not pass they all fail. You also do not use combined income for applicants that are not married. Each must meet full iincome standards otherwise once tey move in and one leaves they will not qualify.

You may be required to inform them of which credit reports you used,in deciding to deny them. I'd check on that. Otherwise, you aren't required to say much. Just tell them you had other applicants who better met your criteria, and so you chose them. I avoid engaging with folks.

You did raise a good point about denying them after charging application fees, but I would just disclose to future applicants before that you take the most qualified applicant, and you do accept multiple applications. If they are not OK with this, they won't apply. 

@Marc Izquierdo

There's a really easy way to solve this: put the burden on them.  Here's what I do:

Send a letter: "We regret we cannot approve your application at this time.  If you would like more detailed information, please send a self-addresses, stamped envelope to PO Box 123  Anywhere Town, MO....  Allow 4-6 weeks for response.  Thanks, The Management."

I've been a land lord since 2005 and have more properties than I have fingers and toes.  I have rejected over 200 applicants in that time for various reasons.  Guess how many of them sent me self-addressed, stamped envelopes?  If you guessed ZERO, you would be correct.

@Marc Izquierdo Just this past Sunday I held an open house for my rental. Got 5 applicants (all paid for credit and background), 4 met the minimum requirements for the property, and I rejected all 4 the same way...

Hello ____

Thank you for applying for our rental, unfortunately we decided on another applicant. We wish you luck in your house search.

I had 2 ask forspecifics, and I told them that we had a lot of interest, and selected th most qualified applicant.

Easy peasy!,

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