This Article is About
property management
criminal background check
first impressions
time gas
rental history
final decision
rental property
intuition
Property Management 101: The Application Process
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Placing a tenant in a rental property is somewhat of an art and a science. It is an important process in property management because once placed, the tenant, the owner, and the property manager are bound together for the duration of the lease. The science of placing a tenant is the formal application process which confirms the applicant’s identity, checks the credit rating, confirms employment, verifies rental history, and searches the criminal background of the applicant. The art of placing a tenant consists of gathering the intangible information provided by the applicant through the processes of observation, conversation, and intuition.

TIP: The Owner always makes the final decision whether the applicant is accepted or denied.

Initial Contact = First Impressions

During the initial telephone conversation it is recommended that the prospective applicant be screened regarding the desired move in date, rental history, credit rating, employment and/or income, and any criminal records that may surface. It is also helpful to determine who will be residing in the rental unit and whether or not pets will be included in the application process. An overall good initial phone call may lead to either a walk-through of the property or an outright end to the process if the required criteria are not met by one party or the other. For instance, if the prospect wants to move in after 90 days, has no job or verifiable income, or cannot pass a criminal background check, there is no point in proceeding with a face to face meeting at the property.

TIP: Save yourself time, gas, and simply be safe - - if the situation calls for it, Just Say No!

Showing the Rental = More Impressions

At the initial walk-through of the property, a great deal of information about the applicant reveals itself to the keen observer. Some of this information is extremely valuable and some merely lingers for possible use in the future. Attitudes about the property and its condition can be observed as the unit is shown to the prospect. Probing questions by both parties can reveal both the ability to pay and the attitude to pay on a timely basis. The relationship between the property manager and the prospective tenant begins to develop right away or ceases and the parties go their separate ways.

TIP: Sometimes it is best to just walk away!

The Application = Written Information

The written application gathers all the basic information regarding the prospective tenant including full name, drivers license number, social security number, current address, employment information, and rental history. Included in the application is the authorization to perform a credit check and verify identity, employment, rental history, and perform a routine background check of criminal activities and sexual predator lists. The basics of the required rental criteria are normally outlined in the application as well as procedures, guidelines, and requirements the applicant is expected to follow after approval.

TIP: Giving false information on a rental application is typically grounds for denial as well as eviction.

Confirming the Applicant’s Identity = Concrete Evidence Part 1

Plain common sense dictates that you confirm that the applicant is who he or she claims to be. Verification of photo i.d. such as a drivers license or military i.d. is mandatory. The social security number given by the applicant should match the one on file and on record at the current employer. The address on the license, most recent check stub, and current residence should not only match but be confirmed by the background check.

TIP: If the addresses or social security numbers don’t match, Beware! it may be a case of identity theft!

The Credit Approval Process = Concrete Evidence Part 2

Credit scores and credit ratings can literally be obtained within seconds by online third party vendors. Agreeing on an acceptable range for a potential tenant is another story altogether. Whether the acceptable minimum score is 550 or the owner's requirement is 700, it is up to the property owner to deny or accept the applicant.

TIP: Just remember, it is up to the individual property owner to make the final decision!

Verifying Employment and Rental History = Concrete Evidence Part 3 & 4

An important suggestion regarding job verification is to pay a small fee to an outside vendor to verify employment and check the rental history of the applicant. Of course the credit score, criminal background, and identity is verified by outside sources but have employment and rental history verified as well. It is worth the extra fee (if any!) and relieves you of the liability if something is missed. This step includes checking for evictions!

TIP: Pay the fee and have an outside source handle the dirty work!

Criminal History = Concrete Evidence Part 5

This is the area where the biggest surprises show up! Do criminals tell the truth? Sometimes, yes, other times, no! It’s that simple: everyone has something to hide. Be very careful to obtain owner authorization before placing a tenant into a rental property who has any sort of criminal history or sexual predator flag on his or her background.

TIP: It is up to the individual property owner to make the final decision!

The basis of the application process is clearly more science than art!

This is one in a series of articles on property management for landlords, tenants, and managers alike.


Street Talk

There is a lot of useful information here, it will definitely simplify the process for anyone that has to place a tenant. Well written.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Keith, Thanks for the comment. I've seen a few of your articles recently, keep up the good work! Also, I hope you will take a look at some of my other articles. Thanks again!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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