Automate screening
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Automate screening (by S i d [MO]) Sep 14, 2018 6:30 AM
       Automate screening (by Smokowna [MD]) Sep 14, 2018 6:50 AM
       Automate screening (by Doogie [KS]) Sep 14, 2018 7:07 AM
       Automate screening (by Jason [VA]) Sep 14, 2018 7:34 AM
       Automate screening (by Otis [IL]) Sep 14, 2018 7:53 AM
       Automate screening (by GKARL [PA]) Sep 14, 2018 8:08 AM
       Automate screening (by Anne [CA]) Sep 14, 2018 8:08 AM
       Automate screening (by S i d [MO]) Sep 14, 2018 8:31 AM
       Automate screening (by Jeffrey [VA]) Sep 14, 2018 8:54 AM
       Automate screening (by Otis [IL]) Sep 14, 2018 11:04 AM
       Automate screening (by elliot [RI]) Sep 14, 2018 5:00 PM
       Automate screening (by RB [MI]) Sep 14, 2018 5:41 PM
       Automate screening (by CJ [MO]) Sep 14, 2018 7:11 PM
       Automate screening (by Vee [OH]) Sep 15, 2018 4:59 AM
       Automate screening (by LordZen [MA]) Sep 15, 2018 1:20 PM
       Automate screening (by JB [OR]) Sep 15, 2018 9:30 PM
       Automate screening (by DannyC [MO]) Sep 16, 2018 8:16 AM
       Automate screening (by S i d [MO]) Sep 18, 2018 5:30 AM
       Automate screening (by J [IN]) Sep 18, 2018 12:34 PM
       Automate screening (by GKARL [PA]) Sep 18, 2018 5:15 PM
       Automate screening (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Sep 19, 2018 12:17 PM
       Automate screening (by WMH [NC]) Sep 19, 2018 2:18 PM
       Automate screening (by GKARL [PA]) Sep 19, 2018 6:47 PM
       Automate screening (by kristin [AR]) Sep 26, 2018 8:28 AM
       Automate screening (by kristin [AR]) Sep 26, 2018 9:16 AM
       Automate screening (by Mike [VA]) Oct 5, 2018 5:31 AM

Automate screening (by S i d [MO]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 6:30 AM

Are you tired of fooling with entitled, deadbeat, looky-loo prospective renters who lie and don't value your time? Today is a great day!

I've talked about my process piecemeal here/there and at the Mr. LL Convention. For anyone who is interested, I'll share it here. This saves me time and headaches and has me with a vacancy rate of less than 3% for the year (and back as far as I keep stats...2013). It has evolved a bit over time and I am still tweaking it but this WORKS!

*** S i d's Hassle-Free/Worry-Free Tenant Screening Process ***

1) When a property comes vacant, I immediately advertise on the Zillow syndicate. If it's an eviction or the resident is being contentious (rare), I don't. I also bribe current tenant with $100 referral bonus and $50 "say good things about us, keep the house nice for showing" bonus.

2) The ad contains instructions for "To View" and "To Apply" with links to my website.

3) Our website has a "Tour Request" form. It's really pre-screening. Asks the basics: full name (including middle), income that can be documented, how many animals (don't say 'Pets!' ESAs aren't pets!) and what kind, reason for moving, email and phone #, and how soon they want to move.

4) I use the results of the form to run a pre-screening.

* Background check: Missouri has online court records on CaseNet. A lot get DQ'd here...evictions, violent felons, recent drug charges, pattern of violations over extended period.

* Income. Must be minimum of 3x the rent. Anything below is automatic DQ. Rents are low in my town. Adjust as needed for your area.

* Reason for moving. If they trash talk the LL or say something really go!

* Moving timeline... N,o I won't hold this apartment for you 3 months! I'll file the email address later so if I have a vacancy in 2 months then they'll get an email blast. Keep this info: it's valuable!

5) If they DQ, I don't response. If they pass...

*Vacant house: I send them a "Good news, 123 Anywhere Ave is ready to tour....key is in the lock box on the front door....combo is 1234....say Hi to our handyman Joe if he's there finishing up a few small items. Apply online at (website)....$19.95 per adult age 18 and up." This means they get to tour NOW while other LLs make them wait. It also keeps them from stealing or damaging, knowing that "Joe" could show up at any time. The worst thing I've had in 4 years of doing this is someone did a #2 in the toilet and didn't flush.

* Occupied house: same idea, but my bribed tenants allow them in.

NOTE: I have not talked to this person yet. All calls go to voicemail and get text or email responses. This means I haven't heard any 'stories' or been asked if we 'work with people' on the deposit. I am too busy working with good tenants to work with poorly qualified prospects. Don't worry, I'll talk to the good ones eventually. I know some of you insist on that and I do too, but I would rather talk to 1-2 well-qualified, cooperative people vs. 100 entitled, deadbeat, looky-loos.

6) If they tour and respond via the website application, we process it fully. They pay the fee to a third party that does the credit pull for us and emails us PDF copies of the app, as well as photo ID (required) and pay stubs/income documentation (required). We do all the usual stuff to weed out the fake land lords/employers/fake pay stubs. That's a separate post!

7) Assuming they qualify...I text/email: "Congratulations! Your application is complete. We'll need $XXX deposited to reserve this unit for you. I'll be in touch soon." They have to deposit the funds and sign our Property Reservation Agreement that spell out the deposited funds are a Holding FEE (non-refundable for ANY reason once we finish application approval process).

** Note: I did NOT say their app is approved. We have one more step....

8) I contact them personally. Yes, NOW I talk to the person who has established that they have money, good references, good background, decent or better credit, and who cooperate. I set up an appointment to come view their current home and take pictures of their animals. NOW I get a chance to see if they're faking me out. If they are disagreeable, uncooperative, sketchy....we cancel and will refund. It's very rare to find this, though. Remember, this is a good person I screened pretty carefully and who is willing to go the extra mile.

9) In-home inspection. Takes 2 minutes. I see the pets; I smell the home. This step will reveal more truth than any application or talk you will ever have with them or any of their references, guaranteed. Your house will look, smell, and sound like their current house within 4 weeks of them moving in. If you reject all 9 of my other steps....DO THIS ONE!

10) Assuming all goes well, we sign the Property Reservation Agreement. Their deposited funds are now non-refundable if they back out for any reason. Keys will be turned over on move-in day when we do the walk thru and sigh the lease.

This process has saved me TONS of time. There is little to no risk of damage/squatters. I get rented quickly and don't waste gas or time on no-shows.

Seriously, it works. I just did another one of these yesterday.... in-home inspection this weekend. Her past and current land lord had only good things to say about her, so I anticipate a win and happy, happy all around.

Automate screening (by Smokowna [MD]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 6:50 AM

I enjoy seeing the history of all the pieces of your ideas coming together to form a clear and organized path. A working system that is sure to save time.

Automate screening (by Doogie [KS]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 7:07 AM

Sid - Thanks for posting. Pretty much the same process I follow now.

Question though - do you get past LL's that aren't willing to cooperate? If so, how do you handle? Does it mean an auto denial for the prospect, or something different?

Rent on!

Automate screening (by Jason [VA]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 7:34 AM

I've adopted a very similar process and I love it! You'll have all of the naysayers chime in about how it won't work for them, or how its "lazy", or how you/we should just hire a real estate broker if we can't be bothered rushing out to show a property at any given time/day.

These naysayers are all stuck in their ways. They're stuck in the old fashioned way of doing business, which is great if that's what they're comfortable with. But to these naysayers, I challenge them to try this methodology ONE time and THEN comment about the results.

This automated process is a great one and is the future of the business. After seeing up how much more smoothly my turnovers are going after adopting a similar process, I'm never going back!

Automate screening (by Otis [IL]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 7:53 AM

Thanks SID for posting this. I have progressed some with getting places rented. Started out with individual showings....moved to open houses....and now on to lock box showings. Will still do an open house if I am going to be there anyways touching up paint etc.

I think I asked you this before and forgot to write it down, what website builder did you use and have you found a decent credit/background company? I am thinking about giving Jeffery’s service on this site a try.


Automate screening (by GKARL [PA]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 8:08 AM

Thanks for this Sid. I'm doing something similar. Unfortunately, I can't do lockbox showings, but I can maybe pay a tenant to let them in and show. What website provider are you using? Does the site provide the pre-screening form?

Automate screening (by Anne [CA]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 8:08 AM

Thank you so much for posting this, Sid!

We are currently prescreening for our duplex and recently had a prospect contact us via Zillow. I looked up her name and she had some kind of "health coaching" business, fancy website, etc. I thought, great, she seems like she can pay the rent.

We show her the place and she asks to prepay the rent for 6 months and asks us to shorten the lease from 1 year to 6 months.


Now we are looking at another potential tenant and his only ask was to reduce the pet deposit from $500 per animal to $500 total. He has 2 cats, and we are willing to bend to that. Otherwise, he is golden on paper...high credit score, income level adequate.

Automate screening (by S i d [MO]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 8:31 AM

Hi all... I will give my web process if interested, but not on here as they are somewhat of a competitor to one of this site's sponsors.

For tenants without a past land lord....great question, and this is one area that each LL must answer for him/herself. This post is NOT about specific screening criteria, although I did list some as examples. For me, if a tenant has no LL history or only one, I will accept with increased security deposit.

I also ALWAYS inspect where they are currently living, even if it's a parent's or relative's house. Yes, I want to see their room. If they disrespect Ma and Pa's or Aunt Tilly's thanks! I don't take folks staying in extended stay hotels either. Nope....that risk is a no-go. If they live out of town, I try to find someone local (Realtor, handyman) who will go by their house and send me a report. This is harder, but it can be done. 90% of my applicants come from in-town or surrounding area where I can get too within a short drive. You'll have to flesh out your own policy on this, but don't neglect it.

My purpose in this post is how to automate the process and minimize interaction to what is necessary and sufficient to qualify a good renter. The actual criteria are up to you. For example, in my state I can require income to be garnisheable. Other states protect income source, so that wouldn't work and you'll have to come up with another plan.

Automate screening (by Jeffrey [VA]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 8:54 AM

Hey Sid, thanks for sharing your effective procedures for screening. I also appreciate that you are considerate of not posting info that would possibly compete with sponsors on this site. However, for the benefit of those reading the post, it's okay (this once:) to share in this discussion, the web process, builder or screening company, that you use. Thanks again for continuing to share your insights procedures and experiences with all those who come to this forum the types of tips and real world experiences from proven landlords that you can't find anywhere else.

Automate screening (by Otis [IL]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 11:04 AM

Jeffrey I applaud you for your comment. That shows you are one heck of a stand up guy. I don’t post often but read this forum everyday and cannot thank everyone enough for the knowledge and help they provide.

Automate screening (by elliot [RI]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 5:00 PM

Sid, great job!

Showing has been one element that I can't automate. I started trying open house showing. Just a pain when you have 2 or 3 vacancies that are 20 minutes apart.

Single family showing would be easier with lockbox showing.. I wonder if anyone actually does lockbox showing for multifamily in city, B-C neighborhood.

Automate screening (by RB [MI]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 5:41 PM

Screen x3, effort in progress.

Automate screening (by CJ [MO]) Posted on: Sep 14, 2018 7:11 PM

Sid. Thanks very much for sharing. It is nice to know screening and lockbox show work.

Do you tap the toilet cover? Do you have water and electric on for vacant house? Lots of people like to use toilet in empty unit.

Automate screening (by Vee [OH]) Posted on: Sep 15, 2018 4:59 AM

CJ above, always tape toilet closed with clear shipping tape, they can hear the flushing if they need to.

Automate screening (by LordZen [MA]) Posted on: Sep 15, 2018 1:20 PM

Sid [MO] this is a GREAT post, YAY, i need to learn more stuff yet hehehe, thanks for sharing.

We do all the usual stuff to weed out the fake land lords/employers/fake pay stubs. That's a separate post! <--- Did you already posted this info, or not yet?

Automate screening (by JB [OR]) Posted on: Sep 15, 2018 9:30 PM

Thanks for sharing Sid. Also, a big thanks to Jeffrey for allowing you to share your particular source. I look forward to your follow up Sid.

Automate screening (by DannyC [MO]) Posted on: Sep 16, 2018 8:16 AM

Sid thanks for sharing. I have to admit implementing some of these ideas I heard from you in May has been on my to do list since then. I have been "to busy" since then to do it, and no vacancies so I didn't worry about it.

I have received notice from 3 tenants that will be leaving, and finishing a rehab in the next couple weeks. With that number of vacancies I needed the reminder I need to get this done. I am going to get to work, and implement this to help save time with the upcoming vacancies.

Automate screening (by S i d [MO]) Posted on: Sep 18, 2018 5:30 AM

Sorry for the delay.... and thank you to Jeffrey for giving permission to discuss some specifics.

For pre-screening, I have a website designed and powered by Weebly. I got their Basic package that costs $8/month and includes 1 year of domain registration and site hosting. I work in IT, but mostly green-screen mainframe stuff, not the fancy web-stuff. Their design software is easy to use, "drag and drop", what you see is what you get! Too easy for anyone to use and update. If all else fails, hire a middle-schooler for $20 and he/she will teach you how!

For application, I use rentapplication d o t net. They have a free option for just the application, but I used the option to have the tenant pay the web site for a credit report. They also offer eviction and background reporting for an extra charge. You can add any extra fees you want as well. It's very easy to customize for your needs/wants. They have secure processing built-in so you can get SSNs, digital signature/release to verify info, etc. You get a PDF copy of their credit report, the application, and whatever documents you want them to upload. I require photo ID and paystubs. Download, unzip, review...takes a few minutes at most. Forward the release to land lords/employers. Easy cheesy!

Automate screening (by J [IN]) Posted on: Sep 18, 2018 12:34 PM


Thank you for sharing.

Automate screening (by GKARL [PA]) Posted on: Sep 18, 2018 5:15 PM

Sid, I'm playing around with this and just found it easier to work with google forms to get my pre-screening app done. Basically, I'm going to set up my full application on google forms and then have them go onto a provider I have similar to the one you have to authorize release of credit and criminal background. I can embed the google form into my website using html code provided by google.

My question is this: How are you capturing SSN's? I would normally get these on the paper app, but with the services, they provide directly and you don't get them.

I'm not convinced completely that I need a website unless I upload video's of the units. As it stands, I can link the google form directly in my ads which have plenty of pictures. For anyone who gets past the pre-screen, I can just e-mail them the information for the complete credit and criminal check. That will only be a few people, so that's not a biggie. We'll see.

Automate screening (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Posted on: Sep 19, 2018 12:17 PM



I hired my high school nephew to build my website back when people said "Why would you need a website" 20+ years ago.

It works for me day and night, 7 days a week while I played with my kids and had peaceful dinner with the fam.

75% of our applications come in from the website.

I see people drive up to our homes with the Homes list printed off the website.

It is the cheapest, most effective "employee" I have.

AND 97% of folks START home shopping online.


Automate screening (by WMH [NC]) Posted on: Sep 19, 2018 2:18 PM

GKarl, we no longer use our website to advertise but we do keep our policies and procedures up there, and links to our online prescreeen. A website just makes you more legit, that's all.

Automate screening (by GKARL [PA]) Posted on: Sep 19, 2018 6:47 PM

The only way a website will help me is with videos of my units. Everything else can be accomplished with google forms and the site I use for the credit/criminal checks. Maybe I could put the on line pre-screening form. I see Zillow is also now offering applications and credit checks as well. Tenants can just click on this information while at the ad and complete.

Automate screening (by kristin [AR]) Posted on: Sep 26, 2018 8:28 AM

I have started using the Zillow application and credit report and have been pleased with it. It's a great for pre-screening and I like getting the report without having to handle the application fee. Applicants pay $29 for credit/background check which is good for 30 days. They can apply for different properties on Zillow using the one report.

If they pass the prescreening on Zillow, I have them fill out a brief application with some additional information and get their photo ID and income documents

Automate screening (by kristin [AR]) Posted on: Sep 26, 2018 9:16 AM

Sid, I like seeing your whole step by step process - really helpful.

I plan to start doing home visits. Will be a challenge as a number of my residents move from out of town.

Wondering how much your holding fee is. Do you apply it toward their security deposit?

Automate screening (by Mike [VA]) Posted on: Oct 5, 2018 5:31 AM

Great post, Sid, thank you!

Quick question - How do you deny the applicant if they fail the in-home inspection but passed everything else up to that point?

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