Feeling a little nervous about lack of qualified candidates

49 Replies

We've had our duplex since October 4th, and listed our list unit (2B/1BA) on November 7th at $1,000 and tenants split electricity and gas.

We've had lots of interest, but the problem seems to be that folks aren't meeting our qualifications. I just updated all of my postings saying we'll accept pets in hopes that maybe someone qualifies but they have a pet, but it's getting to be a crap time of year and I'm worried about our standards.

Has anyone else ran into this? Rent is actually a little below what others have posted around so it's not a price problem, it's a quality problem. What else can be done to help move things along? Posted in the following spots:

  • Craigslist
  • Trulia
  • Zillow
  • Apartments.com
  • Cozy
  • TenantCloud
  • Nextdoor (in my own neighborhood though, apparently since I don't live in my rental I can't join that area's Nextdoor?)
  • Hotpads
  • My New Place
  • MSN
  • AOL Real Estate
  • Doorsteps.com
  • Realtor.com

For the extension list of what our qualifications are, you can find them on our website: https://www.conrad.rentals/rental-application

All ideas are welcome, thank you!!

I think it's the list of qualifications that is scaring people off. In the ad it's self I would just simply say that "we do an in-depth criminal and reference check (must have good references!)." And state whatever your requirements are for income..... for example "your household take-home pay must be two and a half times the monthly rent". I personally like to meet the applicant when they turn their application in because I feel like I can get a good feeling of what type of person they are... versus just what they put on paper. But I've been wrong plenty of times also! Hope that helps! 

I noticed lack of qualified tenants for the first time last month.  Lots of showings too.  I always thought it was a numbers game but after my last turnover my opinion has changed.  I think everyone (including the banks) are chasing yield.  The 3% down loan is back and leverage is at an all time high.  Might be awhile, but the next meltdown is in the making, and I can’t wait for it to hit.  

I have been selling my flips to the people I used to rent to. Sold a 200k house to a kid that just turned 22 last week.  (Way to go millennial)

We have to adjust.  After 15 showings, 3 returned apps, we just had to take “good enough”.  I personally wouldn’t take cats or dogs.  I would much rather take an applicant with sketch credit.  

Criminal history, no evictions, and ability to pay might be my 2018 criteria.  

Is the unit you're referring to in the question the larger or smaller unit of the two? What do the applicants for the other unit look like? Just for some more information on the situation. 

@Kelly Conrad

Man that's a lengthy qualification. Even if I met all those standards, I will be discouraged to rent it because I may think somewhere between the lines, I don't qualify. Is there a way to make it more compact and easier to read? Also, how many have actually requested showings, there is a difference between interested and actually going to see it?  I would also question how well the advertising is when you post it. Do the pictures look inviting that a tenant could see themselves living there.

The fact that you have so many ad venues with no bite means there must be a major issue with the place. As you said, the place is below market and you allow pets; people should be tripping over each other to live there on pets alone.

I would try this for a short time: do some little DIY work to spruce up the place even more, take bright pictures, shorten the verbiage (No eviction, No criminal history, make X amount more than rent, show last 2 months paystub, don't bother for credit score, just keep it simple stupid) and see what happens. I would also place ads on Facebook marketplace. For my rental I only used Facebook and Craigslist and within 3 weeks of closing on the house, we had a tenant in the property.

Hope others chime in to give you more or better advice.

@Brian Adzadi Those were all the qualifications our lawyer wrote out, I just assumed it had to be like that. We've had a ton of viewing requests, but we've said we'll only show to those who meet our requirements (2 so far, the 3rd today ended up bailing). I'm happy to not have the whole long list, I just thought it was legally required to look that way.

I like the idea of removing all of that verbiage as public facing but letting it be a guide for us internally as we screen. It seems to be a theme of shortening qualifications as folks might be intimidated. 

@Account Closed The smaller one has had more hits since it's been listed longer, probably 15-20 have reached out in some way. The bottom unit has had 2 or 3 folks reach out since it was posted on Wednesday.

Put your rental listing on Facebook Market Place.  You'll get a bunch of hits from it and you can view their profile before even responding back.  I got 2 out of my last 3 vacancies filled through facebook marketplace.  Free and it works!

@Kelly Conrad

LOL, the only time you need to use a lawyer is when writing out a lease agreement and setting up an eviction process, because the lawyer is going to use his legalese to set up a lengthy qualification statement which he/she feels will fit the confines of the law.

As long as your qualifications are not discriminatory, you should be good.

1) No Evictions

2) No Criminal record

3) Makes X amount more than rent

4) Proof of funds

5) Job number

6) Have Security and First Months rent on hand.

Is all you need.

I truly felt intimidated by those requirements you stated.

@Brian Zaug Do you know if there's a way to list from a business page? Our LLC has a page and I've been trying to find how I can list on Marketplace with that rather than my personal account.

I'm not sure.  I don't have a business facebook page.  Perhaps you could set your business facebook page as a personal page just so you could post listings....

Maybe it is just your market. My adds are blunt to bludgeoning on the qualification and I still found several qualified renters. About 60 inquiries and 18 came to my open house earlier this month. Renting a pristine 3/2/2. Atlanta market here, outside the belt line.

if you have the time I would consider showing it to people who want to see it after you do a simple phone interview. (Check size of family, income, job, and ask why they are moving). Then be open to showing the house. People are probably just moving on to a landlord who seems more “interested” in renting to THEM. I hope that makes sense. If you had a lot of units it might be harder to do less screening up front because it would take too much time. But since you have 2 units and it’s a tough time of year to rent anyway, try my approach out ignoring you want :) 

Know that it’s always tough to rent places once the holiday season arrives. 

In Dayton's Bluff (if I remember correctly), my guess is that you are going to be dealing with a lot of people who have SOME form of criminal history. Some prospects may interpret your criminal history check to mean that they can't have had ANY issues with the law at any point in their lives... Which would obviously be ideal. My guess would also be, if the neighborhood is anything like what I understand about the frogtown area, more residents are going to own a dog.

P.S. you may want to consider offering a month to month lease with 60 day move out notice, or lease until the end of May - August.

One more thing: I would not eliminate smokers. Lower income people (including a lot of renters) tend to smoke. I would indicate that there is no indoor smoking.

@Dustin S. I'd guess if it's something major in their criminal history I'd probably deny them anyways. I'll leave that to their interpretation, or they could just ask, I suppose.

I was going to put them on a 6 month lease to get to May (positioning it that this time of year isn't great to move, so once we get to May if everything is great we'll move to yearly to make things better for them).

So far the non-smoking criteria hasn't been an issue. Since posting on Facebook market place I can't keep up with requests. How many of them end up being fruitful...we shall see :O 

@Kelly Conrad I like the way you are headed as far as requirements but as others stated:
3x gross income
No evictions
No criminal background
Credit score above X
Pets ???

That should be all you need, what you will learn the most from is talking and interviewing the tenants.

Good luck! I am just completing a remodel of a 4 plex and have the “luxury” of listing the units in December in Nebraska.

Putting in the listing that you will check their criminal history and credit is good enough. No need to tell them about ALL your criteria. They don't have to know what that criteria is. I'm renting out a unit right now. When one of the applicants asks me what the requirements are I just tell them that I will check their credit and their criminal history. That's it. It always works. If they keep pushing I tell them that I input all the info into my "software" and that "software" spits out the most qualified applicants. If they ask what the software is, I tell them that I don't remember the name of it. Obviously, there is no software. 

When I was looking for an apartment way back I wouldn't even call the people who had a list of 50 different requirements. I didn't want to bother even if I qualified. I had a strong belief that if they are that strict I wouldn't want to deal with them because they might just be a little crazy. 

@Brian Adzadi Great advice!!!    @Kelly Conrad    You are asking for a lot from the potential renter. If I'm looking at this house to rent not sure I'm getting a good value for the money. Although I'm in love with the woodwork, hardwood floors and the way cool vintage slider on the deck!! It may just be a picture problem because the house is super cute but as a renter if I have to jump through all the hoops you are asking I may just dismiss it and move on to another rental. 

I really like the overall layout of your site. Looks like you are off to a great start.

It is great to have high standards. But you have to be realistic for your market. It may be you are now in the learning phases, finding out about the exact details of your target market and their eligibility and backgrounds. 

The market will tell you so much. For example, if your rent is a bit too high, your email/text box and message box is just crickets. If you are just at or right under market, it rings off the hook. That does not sound like an issue (though shared utilities may be a bit vague for some)...

Same with requirements for tenants. You want someone who will (1) pay the rent and (2) follow the rules & not damage the place. That is it. Don't need them to babysit your kids or loan them a million dollars.

And keep in mind the big picture. It may be someone who has DUI ten years ago can still meet one and two above. Or someone with one bad medical bill that killed their credit could also meet one and two above. But they both may have been scared off by your criteria (which you could even soften with font size or brevity). You do want to sift out those with serious problems (to not waste your time and their's) but not also filter out those who could be potentially good tenants. So I might use this first experience to see if I need to adjust the filter slightly to meet the larger business goals.

Best of luck!