common for applicants to flake?

20 Replies

I am renting out a 3 bedroom apartment on Chicago's Southwest side. The steps in the tenancy process are:

     1) application (personal info, current address, former, job, a personal reference) and last 2 paystubs

     2) A Transunion Smartmove background check, which is $40 and the tenant pays. I tell them I don't want perfect credit or a certain credit score, I am looking for bankruptcies, repos, evictions.

     3)   first month + one month security deposit - I make sure to explain why I think a security deposit (as opposed to a non refundable move in fee) is beneficial for both parties and everyone assures me they don't have a problem with a security deposit

Potential tenants A took an application and texted me the next day, asking if they could email it in. I said sure. I never received it nor heard from them again, despite two days later texting them to see if they were still interested. When they came by they were in love with the place, assuring me they would be awesome tenants etc.

Potential tenant B was a leasing agent who promised to send me her credit score and said she could give me the move in fees within days. She told me the school nearby would be awesome for her daughter, she loved the patio and I promised to put in a washer dryer hookup for her. I texted her two days later asking when she would send the credit report, and she never replied back. 
 

3 college students came in, filled out applications and expressed strong interest in moving in before the fall semester started. I contacted one two days later to tell her the place was available and ask her if they were still interested; if so could they sent their paystubs in. She said they were, and would send me paystubs ASAP. Days later, and I haven't received or heard anything.


Is this kind of thing common? Am I making an errors in my handling of the process? The neighborhood where the unit is has few rentals and even fewer that are newly renovated, and my rent is the going rate for 3 bedroom in this area. Thanks!

I've given out as many as 40 applications and as little as 3 before I've found a tenant. I've had many hyper eager applicants wanting to fill out the application right there, give me the money and secure the rental only to never be heard from again when I tell them to fill it out at home and collect additional required info to turn in at the same time. I've had accepted applicants on the way to meet me at the rental with the holding fee/deposit not show up and ghost me from then on.

It's all part of the process. The key thing is to not let any one or all of these things make you desperate. Always screen and always enforce your requirements.

@Jay Garrison this happens sometimes in the leasing process. It can be frustrating, but you should assume that you will need to show a place 7-10 times in order to get a qualified applicant. If you can't get an applicant after around 10 showings, re-consider the price. Price is the main issue in most cases. 

Originally posted by @Jay Garrison :

I am renting out a 3 bedroom apartment on Chicago's Southwest side. The steps in the tenancy process are:

     1) application (personal info, current address, former, job, a personal reference) and last 2 paystubs

     2) A Transunion Smartmove background check, which is $40 and the tenant pays. I tell them I don't want perfect credit or a certain credit score, I am looking for bankruptcies, repos, evictions.

     3)   first month + one month security deposit - I make sure to explain why I think a security deposit (as opposed to a non refundable move in fee) is beneficial for both parties and everyone assures me they don't have a problem with a security deposit

Potential tenants A took an application and texted me the next day, asking if they could email it in. I said sure. I never received it nor heard from them again, despite two days later texting them to see if they were still interested. When they came by they were in love with the place, assuring me they would be awesome tenants etc.

Potential tenant B was a leasing agent who promised to send me her credit score and said she could give me the move in fees within days. She told me the school nearby would be awesome for her daughter, she loved the patio and I promised to put in a washer dryer hookup for her. I texted her two days later asking when she would send the credit report, and she never replied back. 
 

3 college students came in, filled out applications and expressed strong interest in moving in before the fall semester started. I contacted one two days later to tell her the place was available and ask her if they were still interested; if so could they sent their paystubs in. She said they were, and would send me paystubs ASAP. Days later, and I haven't received or heard anything.


Is this kind of thing common? Am I making an errors in my handling of the process? The neighborhood where the unit is has few rentals and even fewer that are newly renovated, and my rent is the going rate for 3 bedroom in this area. Thanks!

 Flaking is the norm. What you want to do is have group showings. You need to schedule 1 apt say Friday at 5pm and anyone who's interested needs to show up to that showing. If they can't make it let them know to check online for the next group showing if it comes to that. From there everyone who wants an application will need to pay you an application fee. Screen the ones who apply and pick out the best. If you don't have a tenant who was approved and ready to pay a deposit repeat the process until you do.

I agree with @James Wise . Group showings will allow you to find a tenant more efficiently by taking less of your time and more of a competitive feeling for the applicants. Many people who "love the home" will not complete an application or screening if they know that they don't meet your minimum criteria and hope you will rent to them because "the house is perfect for their family" without screening them.

@James Wise,
I will take that group advice showing, thanks! I will also be mindful that having plenty of interest doesn't mean they are all serious candidates.

People just don't want any "confrontation" nowadays. 75% of my showings say; "we really like it. We'll be in touch real soon". I've even had applicants that said they wanted the place, I've verified employment and prior landlord, and then they still disappeared when it came time to pay the $40 screening. My guess is they know they either lied on their application, or they simply won't pass the screening process. But they aren't going to tell you in person. Just keep plugging away until somebody qualified makes it through the process, pays the security and first months rent, and signs the lease. 

@Jay Garrison I'm going through the same.  I adjusted my price down $50 to try and encourage fresh leads.  I've also reached out to people who I thought were good candidates to try and get some feedback, although haven't gotten a response yet. 

My screening process is very similar to yours.  I haven't done multiple showings at once but do them typically on Wednesday in 30 min (going adjust to 15 minute) increments.  I like being able to talk to the prospects 1 on 1 and get a feel for how they are.  A mass open house wouldn't allow me to do that.  

More flake then not, just part of the process. 

Stick to your requirements, don't get impatient. Better to wait an extra week or two for the right tenant.

I will not budge on my requirements, but I have dropped the price to make it more competitive. The bedrooms are small and that was a dealbreaker for many of the potential tenants, so I went down to $1100. I have been showing it for almost 3 weeks now, and I figure that the reduction in rent will be offset by getting tenants who can meet the requirement in sooner. Plus of course the lost $$ for the time it would sit empty must be factored into it. My thinking was, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”.

@Patrick M - has the reduction in price led to an uptick? I still have another unit to finish renovating and rent out, so that helps mitigate the slight sting of lowering the rent.

I am going through the same situation. I have even made it to the next step (preparing a Lease), three times, only to be ghosted by the potential tenants.

I just continue to move forward, showing the properties, until I have signed Leases.

@Jay Garrison   I have only had a lower price for a day and I did it on a Monday so haven't had anymore responses yet.  Based on the feedback from to prospects price seems to be an issue.  Although I will say I'm very happy one of the prospects gave me the feedback she did because it showed my how horrible of a tenant she would have really been. 

I'm $100 over the nicest 3bd duplex in the area vs. my 4bd SF.  My market research indicated a rental point between 1800-2000.  I tried 2000 and now lowered it to 1950.  Will adjust SLOWLY until the right tenant comes along.  I put a lot of manual labor into this to waste it on a poor tenant.  

I think this is super common amongst applicants. A lot of them get cold feet or once you ask them to do a background check or for their credit score they get scared off. Believe it or not lots of people have bad credit that's why for all my potential tenants I used an app called Tellus to screen anyone I was serious about. They offer free background checks so I took advantage of that! 

I think it's better to be safe than sorry though. If a tenant is flakey you wouldn't want them to be your tenants anyways, wait for a good fit that'll last for years to come. Don't force it or settle for just anyone!

Originally posted by @James Wise :
Originally posted by @Jay Garrison:

I am renting out a 3 bedroom apartment on Chicago's Southwest side. The steps in the tenancy process are:

     1) application (personal info, current address, former, job, a personal reference) and last 2 paystubs

     2) A Transunion Smartmove background check, which is $40 and the tenant pays. I tell them I don't want perfect credit or a certain credit score, I am looking for bankruptcies, repos, evictions.

     3)   first month + one month security deposit - I make sure to explain why I think a security deposit (as opposed to a non refundable move in fee) is beneficial for both parties and everyone assures me they don't have a problem with a security deposit

Potential tenants A took an application and texted me the next day, asking if they could email it in. I said sure. I never received it nor heard from them again, despite two days later texting them to see if they were still interested. When they came by they were in love with the place, assuring me they would be awesome tenants etc.

Potential tenant B was a leasing agent who promised to send me her credit score and said she could give me the move in fees within days. She told me the school nearby would be awesome for her daughter, she loved the patio and I promised to put in a washer dryer hookup for her. I texted her two days later asking when she would send the credit report, and she never replied back. 
 

3 college students came in, filled out applications and expressed strong interest in moving in before the fall semester started. I contacted one two days later to tell her the place was available and ask her if they were still interested; if so could they sent their paystubs in. She said they were, and would send me paystubs ASAP. Days later, and I haven't received or heard anything.


Is this kind of thing common? Am I making an errors in my handling of the process? The neighborhood where the unit is has few rentals and even fewer that are newly renovated, and my rent is the going rate for 3 bedroom in this area. Thanks!

 Flaking is the norm. What you want to do is have group showings. You need to schedule 1 apt say Friday at 5pm and anyone who's interested needs to show up to that showing. If they can't make it let them know to check online for the next group showing if it comes to that. From there everyone who wants an application will need to pay you an application fee. Screen the ones who apply and pick out the best. If you don't have a tenant who was approved and ready to pay a deposit repeat the process until you do.

There is no point to have group showings. If you do a pre screening questionnaire prior to showings you will see that 90% of those who contact you are not a good match. Why do showings for those who do not qualify initially? And out of those who you show a place 90% won't work out for various reasons. Again, maybe it is not the same for low end properties. But for me it sure works this way.

It's interesting to read everyone's insight.  After the description I state the following:  ***No smoking. No pets. Application fee $25. Applicant needs to have a credit score of 680 or higher.***

My realtor suggested that information above when I was first starting out and I have pretty much stuck to it.  I have people look at the property during times that are convenient for me as I try to line them up back to back.  A good way for the prospective renters to see there are others interested.  Those truly interested informed me that they were looking at other properties and will keep me posted as I told them the same and even stated how many prospects will be looking in the next couple of days.  There have been the "flakes", those who respond too late or not at all.  Overall, patience is important because the minute you lower the standards, you could be creating a bigger headache for yourself. And remember, you can negotiate a situation, too. 

Very interesting discussion. I too have noticed the flakes have gone way up.  I believe it matters where you  advertise your property. Facebook marketplace is the worst. Craigslist has clearly fallen out of favor in my location. I liked Zillow, but since they have started charging landlords I stopped.  Also I believe people are lying about there personal background. Particularly after the Covid rent moratorium. My hunch is they didn't pay the rent.

I find that a lot of  the potential tenants use the viewing to see how much they can push the landlord.  They do the 'I love it, it is perfect..." game then they all of a sudden can not use technology to do the application or credit check.  But they found the listing on Facebook or Zillow!  Or they do not have a landlord reference because they were living with friends, or whatever.  They want to see what exceptions to the qualifications you will make.  When I stand firm, they disappear real fast.  IF they flake out during the screening, I am glad as I will not have to deal with them later.

@Jay Garrison

One thing I noticed is that you followed up with previous “interested” applicants. I don’t do that. Genuinely interested applicants are demonstrably Interested. And those are the tenants I want. They usually prove to be the best and most appreciative. If I have to coerce the follow up communication then they probably are not for me. Same in relationships! 😂

Originally posted by @Quincy Lockett :

@Jay Garrison

One thing I noticed is that you followed up with previous “interested” applicants. I don’t do that. Genuinely interested applicants are demonstrably Interested. And those are the tenants I want. They usually prove to be the best and most appreciative. If I have to coerce the follow up communication then they probably are not for me. Same in relationships! 😂

completely agree. with the genuinely interested candidates most everything will go smooth and and according to landlord rules. there won't be any "gut feeling" moments in an addition to screening. another important thing to look for is the character of the tenants. even if they check out but their character does not work out I personally won't add them. it is the same as interviewing for a job. I do not know what business fair housing has to tell me who I need to have in my property.
No special status has to be given to anyone because it gives them an unfair advantage. I am surprised landlords are not putting these agencies out of business. . 

Welcome to leasing. Even in a hot market this happens. I had around 150 Facebook queries in under two weeks (6000+ views) for a vacant apartment in a town of around 100,000 people. I was told by one girl that every time she looks at an apartment it's gone in a day. Here's what my experience was like, and I filled this unit roughly one week after the tenant moved out:

Person 1: Guy shows up and says he likes the place. He has his girlfriend drop the rental application off to me the next day. I run it and all looks good. When I bring up the signing of the lease he then tells me he's going out of town for a week

Person 2: She shows up and tells me the place is cute. I give her a rental application though I can tell she's lukewarm

Person 3: She's an osteopath student and seemed to like the place. Her sister was to co-sign

I rented the apartment to Person 3. And the funny thing is a day or two later Person 1 messaged me asking if it was still available. Nope!

Even in a hot market people will disappear on you. People are flakey. I've dealt with flakes since I started in MF buy and hold back in 2016-2017; though it helps that now is the busy season for rentals (the osteopathic school has their new students flooding in and my apartment is fairly priced).

@Kar Sun

What's the connection between the Fair Housing agencies and potential tenants flaking? I agree about staying away from group showings. 

I have tenants in both units now, I think I found them through Apartments.com? I won't use Facebook again, that's for sure. Definitely the "quantity over quality" adage applies to Facebook. One interesting thing is that I had more flexibility on the credit and it paid off, for the most part. I am curious about how people are doing now that much of the country has opened back up and we've kinda reached something like a middle-ground.