Tenant Management, Tenant Screening

How to Collect an Online Rental Application

In today’s digital age, the rental application process has evolved significantly, thanks to the convenience of online platforms. Landlords can now streamline and expedite the tenant screening process through online applications. This shift not only saves time but also offers a more efficient and organized way of managing rental inquiries.

However, navigating the realm of online rental applications requires a strategic approach to ensure you gather all necessary information while adhering to landlord-tenant laws.

What is a Rental Application?

A rental application is a document that prospective tenants fill out when they are interested in renting a property. It serves as a formal request for tenancy and provides landlords or property managers with essential information about the applicant.

The purpose of a rental application is to help landlords or property managers assess the suitability of a prospective tenant for the rental property. By reviewing the information provided in the application, landlords can evaluate factors such as the applicant’s ability to pay rent on time, their rental history, and whether they’re likely to be responsible and reliable tenants.

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What Information Should I Ask For?

When collecting a rental application, it’s essential to request specific information to assess the suitability of prospective tenants.

  • Inquire about their rental history, including previous addresses and landlord references, to gauge their past tenancy behaviors.
  • Assess their income and employment details to ensure they have the financial stability to afford rent consistently.
  • Ask for other background information, such as criminal history or credit report, to uncover any potential red flags.
  • Inquire about special circumstances like pet ownership or smoking habits to align with property policies.
  • Verify their identity through government-issued identification and confirm income through pay stubs or employment verification to validate the accuracy of their application details.

Next Steps

After receiving the rental applications, the next crucial step is to conduct thorough tenant screening to ensure the suitability of prospective tenants for your rental property.

Credit and Criminal Background Check

Performing a credit check allows landlords to assess an applicant’s financial responsibility and history of paying debts on time. This check reveals their credit score, outstanding debts, and any previous evictions or bankruptcies, providing valuable insight into their financial reliability.

Simultaneously, conducting a criminal background check helps identify any past criminal activities that may pose a risk to the rental property or other tenants. This check typically includes searching for records of convictions, arrests, and any involvement in illegal activities.

Tenant Screening Report

Once credit and criminal background checks are complete, landlords receive a comprehensive tenant screening report summarizing the applicant’s financial and criminal history.

This report aids in making informed decisions regarding the selection of tenants for the rental property, ensuring a safe and secure living environment for all residents.

Finalize Rental Decision

After thoroughly reviewing rental applications and conducting tenant screening, it’s time to make the final decision on selecting a tenant for your rental property.

  • Carefully examine the tenant screening reports, paying close attention to credit history, rental references, employment verification, and criminal background checks.
  • Reach out to personal and professional references provided by the applicants to gain further insight into their character, reliability, and behavior as tenants.
  • Based on the gathered information and assessment, make an informed decision on selecting the most suitable tenant for your rental property.
  • Notify the chosen applicant and initiate the next steps in the leasing process, including lease agreement signing and move-in arrangements.
  • Inform all applicants of your decision promptly, expressing appreciation for their interest in the property and providing clear communication regarding the outcome of their application.

Online Rental Applications: Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use an online rental application? ​

Using an online rental application streamlines the process, saves time, and offers convenience for both landlords and tenants, allowing for efficient data collection and management.

What information is collected in an online rental application? ​

An online rental application typically collects personal information, rental history, employment details, references, and consent for background checks.

Is it safe for rental applications to ask for SSN?

It’s generally safe to request a Social Security Number (SSN) for identity verification and credit checks, but landlords must handle this information securely and in compliance with data protection laws.

Is it ok to ask for bank information on a rental application?

While it’s common to request bank information for income verification or rent payment setup, landlords must ensure the security of this sensitive information and handle it in accordance with privacy regulations.

How long does a rental application take to process? ​

The time to process a rental application varies but usually takes a few days to a week, depending on factors such as the number of applications, the completeness of information provided, and the landlord’s screening process.

Are rental application fees refundable?

Rental application fees are typically non-refundable and cover the costs associated with screening applicants, such as credit and background checks. It’s essential for landlords to clearly communicate this policy to applicants before they submit their applications.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and Landlord Gurus may earn a commission. Our mission remains to provide valuable resources and information that helps landlords manage their rental properties efficiently and profitably. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality, not because of the commission.

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About Eli Secor

Eli Secor, Co-Founder, Landlord Gurus Eli purchased his first rental property at the age of 20, a fourplex in Gold Canyon, Arizona. He was lucky to have the advice of a shrewd real estate investing grandmother, as well as special incentives for first time buyers following the savings and loan meltdown in the late ‘80’s. In 2004 Eli and his wife purchased their first property together, a triplex in Portland, Oregon. The neighborhood was improving, light rail was coming in, and the property needed a significant rehab. They traveled back and forth from their then home in California, improving and managing the property. Eli did a full remodel on the biggest unit, living in the construction zone while doing so. The property has been cashflow positive since day one, and is now worth 3-4 times its original purchase price. Eli has been involved in residential construction since 2001, having remodeled several houses from top to bottom, rehabbed or improved rental units, and built his family’s primary residence. He leverages his knowledge of buildings to improve and maintain rental properties cost and time-effectively. Since 2007 Eli has been managing property in Seattle for family members, and now oversees 20 apartments and 3 commercial spaces. He has a great handyman, who helps make repairs, maintenance, and improvement smooth and easy. Otherwise Eli is a DIY landlord, and single contact for all of his tenants.When Eli isn’t managing rental property he is working on home projects, sailing, mountain biking, skiing, or spending time with friends and family. Once or twice a week Chris and Eli get together to run their dogs, Lola & Peanut. These meetings do double duty as Landlord Gurus planning sessions!Credentials: - BA in History from Whitman College - General Contractor (Ex) - USCG Licensed Captain (UOPV Six-Pack)
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