Tenant Application Timeline

7 Replies

Hey everyone I am trying to get some information on how everyone handles applications from tenants and what your flow chart would look like. Listed below is my general understanding and a timeline with some questions and comments.

  1. Person inquires or expresses interest.
    • Do you give them any type of guidelines to what your requirements are at this point or just send them an application?
  2. Send interested person application.
    • If one or more criteria for rejection, inform of rejection.
    • If no issues on application run credit and background check (paid for, non-refundable by applicant.)
  3. Run credit and background check (we are using cozy, does any have any other recommendations and why do you like your method?)
    • If one or more criteria for rejection, inform of rejection.
    • If no issues either approve tenant or decide best fit between multiple qualified candidates.

Does anyone have any other steps I have left out or do things a little bit differently? Does the process flow I have laid out pose any potential issues that you think could be avoided by doing something a little differently? We are working on our process and want to make it as robust as possible so any advice, input, or nuggets of information would be greatly appreciated. 

My web site shows what the criteria is for acceptance. - it  income, what pets we do not allow, etc. so everyone can see this prior to aplying online.  It also lists what they need to attach- photo id   proof if income, etc

I typically show (or otherwise make sure they have seen) the property before asking them to apply (this would be my step 2 above).

If they don't like it or it's not a good fit, then why ask them to apply?

In my experience, prospective tenants are wary of application fees. Not that they mind paying them for a property they are genuinely interested in - but some landlords/PMs try to churn multiple application fees and view them as a source of income, as opposed to doing it in more of a serial fashion: 

1. See Property. Like it? If yes, proceed.

2. Apply for property. Qualified? If yes, proceed.

3. Sign Lease and Pay Deposit. If done, proceed.

4. Pay rent and move in.

Anytime someone fails to move on to the next step, move on to the next applicant.

My screening criteria is on my web site. I give them the basic run-down of qualifiers (monthly income 3x the rent, Landlord reference, credit/criminal, etc.) and point them to the web site if they want to know more.

Once application is approved, they have 24 hours to put the deposit down or it goes back on the market. I usually have many rentals available so I will hold their application for up to two months to be applied towards any rental they qualify for.

Once deposit is received, they have seven days to start paying rent. Anything longer than that must be requested and approved. In other words, I won't hold the property off-market for an entire month because I could find another qualified renter to take it before that.

Thank you all so much, @Christine Kankowski and @Nathan G. ,I really like the idea of having the qualifications available on a website and letting them know before they submit their application.

@Jeff Copeland , I agree about the application fee and we only collect ours to cover cost of background and credit check and we try to make it clear to the applicant that we are not profiting off of their fee. We are planning on refunding the application fee if we see they are not qualified on their application before we move onto background and credit checking. I also like the tip on showing it before requesting an application be submitted. 

@Nicholas Paros I recommend you NOT refund the application fee. Give them the requirements up front and let them know the fee will not be refunded, under any circumstances. I let them know this in advance and that it's their responsibility to review our qualification standards and decide whether they should apply or not.

If you offer a refund, they won't even bother checking your criteria because there's no risk. If you disapprove them, they get the money back. If you somehow mess up, they get the rental. It's a win-win for them and extra work and risk for you.

When I first started managing rentals, nobody in my community charged application fees or ran credit/criminal backgrounds. So I followed suit and accepted every single application, even if I knew up front they were a big risk. That lasted about four months! I started charging a $20 application fee and disclosing that EVERY applicant would have to submit to a credit / criminal background check. The number of applications dropped to about 1/3 of what I was getting before. It's a great "pre-screening" tool.

@Nathan G. Who do you use for your credit/background checks if you don't mind me asking? What did you like about them and what made you chose them?

I use Propertyware for my PM software and it includes a credit/criminal check system through Experian.

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