How to Prequalify Rental Applicants

by | Jul 18, 2016 | Tenant Screening

Have a vacancy coming up? With vacancy rates low, chances are you will receive a ton of phone calls, emails and texts from interested applicants. So many questions, in fact, it may be hard to keep track.

tenant screeningDon’t be fooled by the level of interest in the property. Just because you have an avalanche of applicants doesn’t mean those applicants are qualified to be your tenants. Volume only makes your job more difficult.

One important strategy when finding new tenants is to not rush to judgement. Focus on vetting each applicant as they come to you. Slow down, take some time, and reap the reward: a successful, profitable tenancy.

Otherwise, you easily can wind up with the polished tenant from hell, and all the income loss that comes with it.

By prequalifying your rental applicants, you greatly reduce the likelihood a bad tenant will slip through the cracks. You also will save a lot of unnecessary time on the phone, in the car racing to showing appointments, and at the rental property.

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind:

1. Be specific in your rental ad so that you will cut down the number of unnecessary contacts. One good tenant is worth more than one hundred unqualified tenants. Let applicants know the general location, size and price of the unit so they can decide if it’s worth pursuing.

2. Advertise that you will require a tenant background check. This step alone will eliminate many problem renters who won’t want to waste their time.

3. Ask applicants if they have a source of income that is sufficient to cover the rent. Be careful not to require employment. Any legal source of income will suffice. But some tenants have not thought it through, or they are sifting through so many ads that they don’t realize what you are charging.

4. Go over some of your more material requirements, like no-smoking, no-pets, one-car per unit or any other issues that are deal-breakers if the applicant can’t comply.

5. Find out when the person is planning to move. There are few things more frustrating than taking a trip out to the rental unit, or spending an hour answering questions about amenities, only to find out that the tenant is just “looking around” and won’t be available for two or three months. What’s worse is the applicant who asks you to hold the vacancy open until they are ready.

6. Discuss why the applicant is moving. You’ll want to know if the person is breaking a lease or angry with the current landlord. A tenant involved in an eviction often will look for a new place to live before the court order.

7. Find out about proposed occupants. How many adults? It is important to qualify all adult tenants, which will require meeting each one. That means scheduling a tour when everyone is available. Allow roommates to get their ducks in a row before you take the time to show the property.

8. Record the contact information, and take notes of the initial conversation so you can compare that info to the applicant’s photo ID and completed rental application.

Over time, this process of prequalifying applicants will become second nature, and you will find that it not only saves time, but saves money otherwise wasted on bad tenants.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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