As founders Chris and Eli continue their Finding a New Tenant for Your Rental series, they talk about the rental application process, as discussed in this video.
For applications and tenant screening, Chris uses ApplyConnect. Eli uses Avail and has recently begun trying out TurboTenant. Both Avail and TurboTenant are full property management software products.
One of the features of these products is that you can immediately send out applications and easily schedule showings. Although, Chris and Eli mentioned that they don’t send applications out until they have already met with the tenants and gone through the pre-screening and get-to-know-you process.
“When I show a unit and someone says they’re interested, that’s when I tell them, ‘Okay, I’ll send you a link to the application. It’ll be coming from a third-party service. I don’t collect any money, you can pay them directly and they handle everything.’ So it sort of removes you from the equation a little bit,” Chris said.
Eli also mentioned that he does not charge a separate application fee. Rather, applicants just pay the service directly for the online screening reports.
“It’s generally standard questions that we probably all used in paper form for years. It’s personal information, past residence history, employment history. There are questions about income level, whether or not they have any pets, smoking, or water beds sometimes, not usually. That’s actually another interesting aspect of some of these services that we use, which is that you can customize,” Eli said.
With Avail, TurboTenant, and select property management platforms, they allow you to customize questions on your application. We also have a list of the best tenant screening services on our website.
Eli also stated that Avail asks the applicant to upload a photo government ID to double-check their identity. The application also includes a section to submit an income verification document. If applicable, applicants should also upload an emotional support animal letter.
Chris stated that when tenants pay the application fee on ApplyConnect, they are paying for a credit report, a criminal background report, and an eviction report.
Although, in Seattle, landlords are not allowed to review criminal history, so that report is automatically not sent. The same goes for Avail.
For Eli, most of reviewing the application is checking that the applicant’s information is accurate. Therefore, an extra step that you should take when screening applicants is checking references.
“It’s good to be able to check a few. I always tell applicants that I’m gonna want to talk to at least two references. Sometimes it’ll be an employer. People have all kinds of different references. They may be living at home, but I’ll want to check with a few references,” Eli said.
Chris stated the same thing.
“It’s that extra step that I think a lot of landlords don’t take. Sometimes it’s hard to do, you know, you’re asking uncomfortable questions, and a lot of times you actually have to call to get ahold of somebody, or you have to keep calling or keep emailing because they don’t respond right away,” Chris said. “Getting that confirmation to me is, like you said, making sure that what they put on their application actually can be confirmed by another source.”
Applications, Tenant Screening, and References: Landlord Gurus Takeaway
Applications and tenant screening are very important steps of the rental application process. However, using all-encompassing property management software can help you save time. Additionally, although it may be a bit more time-consuming, checking with an applicant’s references is important. If you are looking for sample reference questions, you can find some on the Landlord Gurus website.
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