Hi All. I'm preparing the application for my first rental and have a question: Is it good practice to communicate some of the more sensitive screening standards to the applicants (i.e., as stated on the application) such as "our screening standards include no evictions or serious criminal history." Or is it better to just let them answer those questions on the application and decline them if their answers reveal otherwise?
It is 100% best to lay out your screening criteria, even right in the ad. I mean, not all of it as you won't have enough room to talk about the home but the basics should be in your ad and you should have the criteria documented and send to everyone prior to pre-screening. if online, even give the URL in the ad so they can see.
This is to help people self screen out and save you time. Its not like they can say yes, I make 3x rent and you will never find out lol. Everything in the criteria is fact based so they can't fake it for long. Let them screen themselves out and save you loads of time.
I second put it in the add, while it is true most people don't seem to read and I have to screen them out on the phone before showing I like to feel it gets me past a few. This is especially true if you charge an application fee even if it just goes directly to the screening service. It isn't fair for someone to pay their money trying to rent the place when there is 0% change they will get in. These can get expensive especially for someone who is marginal at best and is going to need to apply to several before finding the right fit. I feel it goes both ways, you don't waste your time and they don't waste their money so win win.
In TX you have to show your rental criteria to applicants if asked. It would be good to know your states laws regarding disclosure of your selection criteria. It isn't fair to have peop pay an application fee but not tell them what your criteria are if they want to know.
You should have you application and screening process written and available to share. You don't need to share all the details up front, but you should certainly share some of the big-ticket items like to prevent people from wasting their time or yours.
If someone wants to apply, email them the link along with your screening policy. If a violent sex offender chooses to apply even though your policy says they will be rejected, that's on them.
Unless you want to deal with many, many applicants who you would not want to rent to it is a good idea to list your requirements first in any ad. Issues such as income (often required as at least 3 times the rent), eviction history (a big no to many landlords), credit history, are typically screen outs for those who would not meet this criteria.
As for serious criminal history; what does that mean specifically? And keep in mind that recently some states now require that a criminal background is not grounds for refusing an applicant.