Need Advice on Tenant Application

8 Replies

I have been looking at sample tenant applications trying to create one I like. A lot of them are very basic and I feel lacking in important information I need to properly screen applicants. I took pieces from several and  made my own. It comes out to 4 pages total. My wife looked over it and thinks it may be too much. Specifically listing all bank accounts and outstanding debts and monthly payments. How long is your application? What are some questions and information you gather from applicants? 

This is for a preliminary screening. Those that make the cut will be sent a SmartMove link for background and credit check.

Originally posted by @Matthew Guidry :

I have been looking at sample tenant applications trying to create one I like. A lot of them are very basic and I feel lacking in important information I need to properly screen applicants. I took pieces from several and  made my own. It comes out to 4 pages total. My wife looked over it and thinks it may be too much. Specifically listing all bank accounts and outstanding debts and monthly payments. How long is your application? What are some questions and information you gather from applicants? 

This is for a preliminary screening. Those that make the cut will be sent a SmartMove link for background and credit check.

Four pages? And that's your "preliminary" screening? You need to loosen up, friend!

My preliminary screening is very simple: tell them we will run a full credit/criminal on every adult, they should make 3x the monthly rent income, all income must be verifiable, and we will be calling Landlord references. That alone eliminates 90% of the bad applies. The rest are caught in the formal screening.

I'm managing 400 rentals and run approximately 800 applications a year. It doesn't need to be more complicated than that.

 

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

Four pages? And that's your "preliminary" screening? You need to loosen up, friend!

My preliminary screening is very simple: tell them we will run a full credit/criminal on every adult, they should make 3x the monthly rent income, all income must be verifiable, and we will be calling Landlord references. That alone eliminates 90% of the bad applies. The rest are caught in the formal screening.

I'm managing 400 rentals and run approximately 800 applications a year. It doesn't need to be more complicated than that.

 

Ha! Thanks for the gut check! I tend to overthink things. 

Preliminary may have been the wrong word to use. My preliminary is basically the same as yours. Inform them of the minimum requirements and I send them this application to complete along with a link to run the credit/criminal check if they wish to proceed. 

I was under the assumption there would be a formal application to fill out when they input the information for the credit/criminal check, but no application was created when using RentPrep. So I guess you can say this application would be part of the formal of gathering the information to screen.

 

Originally posted by @Matthew Guidry :

Ha! Thanks for the gut check! I tend to overthink things. 

Preliminary may have been the wrong word to use. My preliminary is basically the same as yours. Inform them of the minimum requirements and I send them this application to complete along with a link to run the credit/criminal check if they wish to proceed. 

I was under the assumption there would be a formal application to fill out when they input the information for the credit/criminal check, but no application was created when using RentPrep. So I guess you can say this application would be part of the formal of gathering the information to screen.
 

I'm not familiar with RentPrep. It sounds like they just run the credit/criminal but don't collect anything else? You should consider moving to a different system that allows you to customize the application and collect ALL pertinent information. My application asks for employment history, address history, birth date, social, etc. Then you compare what's in the application with what shows in the credit report. For example, the tenant may tell you they lived in Dallas and LA for the last ten years, but their credit report shows an address in Idaho last year. This may be a red flag that the tenant is hiding a previous address and/or Landlord.

You should also collect animal information, vehicle information, and anything else that may be important to know. You don't want to go overboard, but there are certain things that should be collected. 

 

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

 

I'm not familiar with RentPrep. It sounds like they just run the credit/criminal but don't collect anything else? You should consider moving to a different system that allows you to customize the application and collect ALL pertinent information. My application asks for employment history, address history, birth date, social, etc. Then you compare what's in the application with what shows in the credit report. For example, the tenant may tell you they lived in Dallas and LA for the last ten years, but their credit report shows an address in Idaho last year. This may be a red flag that the tenant is hiding a previous address and/or Landlord.

You should also collect animal information, vehicle information, and anything else that may be important to know. You don't want to go overboard, but there are certain things that should be collected. 


That's what it seems. I just see credit report and background check.  RentPrep runs the SmartMove reports. I will check to see if using the actual SmartMove website will have an application as opposed to just the credit/background check with RentPrep. Do you recommend any other systems?

Originally posted by @Matthew Guidry :

That's what it seems. I just see credit report and background check.  RentPrep runs the SmartMove reports. I will check to see if using the actual SmartMove website will have an application as opposed to just the credit/background check with RentPrep. Do you recommend any other systems?

My application screening is built into my software, which is far too expensive to recommend. Check this out:

https://www.rentspree.com/best...

just bounce around and try them out to see which one works best for you.

 

I use a pretty standard rental application and it's rare I get even the most basic information back even after I tell them I want every blank addressed.  I put on our guidelines that failure to provide the required information can be cause for the application to be declined....tell them that, explain what filling out every blank means, explain what the telephone number to your supervisor and landlord means....and still get junk.   Like if you work for AT&T I don't want the main # to AT&T or even human resources.  I want your supervisor's number at the office and you'd better talk to them first to let them know I am calling them so they know who you are.   Same with your landlord.  I don't want the 800 # to some national company....I want the name/phone of the property manager or owner you hand your check to every month.   It is not easy getting all this.

I think if you ask for too much info....you'll end up having it as a detrimental screening tool.  Maybe it depends on your property ...if you have $1mil or $10mil property maybe you do want all that stuff.   If you have workforce housing type property....people will just go away...they may not have bank accounts, they may not have multiple bank accounts, they may give them to you, but what % of the population lives MTM---most right...so you won't see big balances, etc.

Don't overthink it or reinvent the wheel.  You'll never eliminate all the risk.  Deposit helps some, written application helps some, online background/credit check helps some.  I personally love paper, so like written signed applications.  I think that holds more weight if push comes to shove than online stuff.  Online credit/backgrounds are a good backup/verification plan.

If you are risk adverse, call all the numbers on the applications, talk to their references, employers, landlords.  Ask if the person is responsible and if they would rent to them.

Does any of this software y’all are using also have management of rent and expenses, etc? If not what software do y’all recommend? What do y’all feel is the best way to offer to pay rent on line? PayPal, Venmo?