Prescreening renters over the Internet Vs phone

6 Replies

Does anyone use SurveyMonkey of similiar internet application for prescreening renters vs over the phone. I have found that prescreening renters for showings over the phone doesn't necessarily work with many lying on the phone just to see the inside of one of my rentals and wasting my time. I wanted to see if anyone uses an internet based prescreening method where the renter would have to E-sign their electronic signature after the questionaire is fully answered that  you submit to them via email from your ad.  I  feel this should eliminate alot of riff raff especially if there were also a disclaimer of sorts that tells the renter, that lying on this questionaire automatically disqualifies them.

Interesting idea.  I have not tried it personally.  I do open house showings and set up a 2 hour time frame and tell everyone to just show up.  Then I screen them in person.  9 times out of 10 I get 2-3 applications per showing and only spend 2 hours of my time showing it

I don't know how well that would work - some prospective tenants apparently can't read since they don't reply to Craigslist ads according to what the ad says, and since they don't obey their lease, and since they don't fill out applications properly / completely, etc. :)

@Steve Babiak   has a lot of valid points, plus there is a certain amount of intuition that goes into proper screening. Sometimes you just sense that a person is lying, or a lowlife in general. Or maybe they sound aggressive or obnoxious. Voice communication is a first step to allowing intuition to work. 

Then comes the in-person meeting .... maybe they bring their wife or gf and you sense something about the way they act together. Maybe it is how nasty they keep their car. Maybe it is the fact that you have a no smoking policy but they smell of smoke. Just too many clues are missing without the human interaction. The combination of phone conversation and in person meetup is a big part of screening. Those are the first steps. Then if they pass that part they do the app and credit/background checks. 

As far as time wasting, set a few times for an open house. They show up then to see it if interested.

@Kenneth Davis  - I would suggest a modification of your pre-screening and screening process. For me, I don't publish any of my requirements. My adds sell the property let them know what funds are required. After they call, I prescreen for the major non-negotiable items. All my questions are open ended and asked in a neutral and accepting manner. For example, I ask tenants what pets they have. This presumes they have pets and gives then the sense that pets are ok so no reason to lie. I ask what issues we will find when we check their credit and criminal record. The main thing is to ask open ended questions and follow up questions and LISTEN. 90% of those with drama will tell their "story." Once they fail our criteria, I thank them for their interest and hang up. Probably 90% of those that pass my pre-screening will also pass my application. This will cut down significantly on your liars and lookie loos.


@Bill S. I found your response very helpful. I came on here because I am about to list my first rental unit and want to make sure I know how to pre-screen. 

This is a good thread.  I agree with @Walt Payne 100%.  I learned so much by prescreening tenants over the phone, then in person.  Plus, they could just lie on the online form anyway.  Liars are liars.  They'll lie on the form, and hope to get away with it.

You can learn so much by hearing how they behave even on the phone.  I had people calling me from bars with live music in the background, obviously inebriated, people who screamed obscenities at their kids while leaving me a message, on and on.  

And in person, there are so many clues.  Do they bother to look at how big the closets are or ask about the parking and laundry?  No?  That's weird.... why don't they care?  Or they're bickering the whole time.  There's more to picking a great tenant than just what you see on paper.

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