Screening new tenants
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Screening new tenants (by Donna [PA]) Jul 30, 2020 3:25 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Libi [NY]) Jul 30, 2020 3:32 PM
       Screening new tenants (by S i d [MO]) Jul 30, 2020 4:10 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Sorta Blonde [CA]) Jul 30, 2020 4:27 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Busy [WI]) Jul 30, 2020 4:28 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Robert J [CA]) Jul 30, 2020 4:37 PM
       Screening new tenants (by FloridaNative [FL]) Jul 30, 2020 4:45 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Sisco [MO]) Jul 30, 2020 5:00 PM
       Screening new tenants (by PG [SC]) Jul 30, 2020 5:08 PM
       Screening new tenants (by MikeA [TX]) Jul 30, 2020 8:14 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Bonanza [NC]) Jul 30, 2020 9:07 PM
       Screening new tenants (by RentsDue [MA]) Jul 30, 2020 10:18 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Coplin [CA]) Jul 31, 2020 12:36 PM
       Screening new tenants (by PG [SC]) Jul 31, 2020 1:52 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Jeffrey [VA]) Jul 31, 2020 2:31 PM
       Screening new tenants (by SHAUN [FL]) Jul 31, 2020 7:52 PM
       Screening new tenants (by GKARL [PA]) Jul 31, 2020 8:29 PM
       Screening new tenants (by Nicole [PA]) Aug 1, 2020 9:34 AM
       Screening new tenants (by annie [IN]) Aug 2, 2020 10:48 AM

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Screening new tenants (by Donna [PA]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 3:25 PM

After seven years I have a tenant who is leaving to pursue a job on the west coast. The area I am in has changed greatly in the past 10 years and I am anxiously awaiting the whole screening process.

Actually I'm not.

A listing usually attracts a slew of people who I'm not at all interested in renting to. No job, next week they start, show up looking for a place just for them but two kids and a girlfriend in the car parked across the street or the knitpicker who inspects every crack and crevice all of which will be trouble down the line.

Nothing is fool proof and I am planning credit and background checks.

Does anyone have any pointers or techniques they use to weed out the applicants who are not qualified?

Screening new tenants (by Libi [NY]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 3:32 PM

You can ask to answer a couple questions before setting the showing.

If they will not respond - they weed out themselves. --74.90.xx.xx

Screening new tenants (by S i d [MO]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 4:10 PM

Step 1: Value your time.

Step 2: Develop a list of pre-screeing questions that quickly DQ the obviously unqualified. Some suggestions:

1) What is your monthly household income that can be documented?

2) When are you wanting to move?

3) What is your current living situation (own my own home, renting from a land lord who is not a friend or relative, living with and paying someone rent who IS a friend or relative, "other" (describe)?

4) Our company runs criminal background checks and credit checks. What will we find?

That will get rid of 80% of the tire kickers and looky loos. They will see these and think you are a reputable business, not an easy sucker for a sob story. Do not, do NOT show the unit until they answer these to your satisfaction. You can add others. Keep is short 'n sweet though. More than 7 questions might have you lose good tenants who don't have time to waste.

Schedule a lock box showing with them. I tell them our handyman drops the key off at least 15 minutes prior to showing and will pick it up afterward. This is true: he drops the key off after we finish turnover, then he leaves it there until we pick it up after a new renter is approved. But is SOUNDS LIKE they key is only going to be there about 45 - 60 minutes. This discourages thieves, criminals, vandals, squatters, etc.

Charge an app fee. $25 is not a concern for someone who has good references/track record. The ones who balk at app fees are the ones who know they have time to waste (yours) and no money because they've already been denied by a half dozen other LLs.

Pull credit to verify identity isn't stolen, find addresses that they "forgot" to put on their application, and to see how many charge offs / collections they have. The score doesn't matter to me so much as the activity.

if they a final step you visit their current residence, or pay someone to visit on you behalf. The 2 minute in home visit has saved us from at least one hoarder and several people with multiple undisclosed pets / extra people hanging around / the place stunk of cigarettes/weed and/or was poorly kept.

I usually fill my vacancy in less than a week with a quality tenant. No evictions in 24 months, even in Covid.

Screening new tenants (by Sorta Blonde [CA]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 4:27 PM

If the first question they have is, "Can we repaint?" I immediately put them on my naughty list. I ask about felony arrests and an explanation. If it was dismissed, they don't have to explain.

Screening new tenants (by Busy [WI]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 4:28 PM

Two minute in home inspection. Or, as I tell prospects, Ď I pick up the application where you stay now. How you keep that place is how youíll keep my place.í

Do a search on this forum for in home inspections, we have had many good threads on this.

For me, this in home visit is essential; I do most of the home maintenance, I am not speedy on repairs, and I insist that things are well-maintained. So, tenants see me a lot. If they donít like having landlord in their space frequently, then I am not the right fit for them. How well they accept this intrusion helps me gauge how cooperative they are. I do expect most prospects to be slightly uncomfortable, as am I when I do this visit. I am not a naturally nosy person, so going into someoneís space feels slightly creepy. ( even when the tenants are renting from me, I donít like being in their space. Thatís a good thing!)

Setting expectations at the outset that the landlord expects a certain level of cleanliness can actually train people to Ďup their gameí and become ever-so-slightly better housekeepers. Hoarders or out and out slobs cannot clean up enough in two or three days, and those with small businesses not suitable for residential neighborhoods might not think to take the stripper pole down from the living room before the in home visit. Or to repair the walk-up window screen where they peddle drugs. ( if there is a worn path going to a window, and the screen is torn out enough to make exchanges..... ) And a person who is completely careless with, say, burning candles or incense sticks might not think to clean up/ cover up the evidence of unattended flames/ embers within reach of small children.

Screening new tenants (by Robert J [CA]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 4:37 PM

I have apartments and homes all over my city in "A", "B" and "C" grade locations. I would never put up a sign attracting drive-by's from the "unwanted"! You know, people with cars looking like it came from a demolition derby. Or people dressed like the homeless.

So I target my advertising and sign posting. I'm not going to post a rental on the bulletin board of a 99 Cent Store, but may try a Trader Joe's.

Screening new tenants (by FloridaNative [FL]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 4:45 PM

I agree with the process SID uses. I am going through the process now and there were 15 offers over 2 days. The biggest thing I see that eliminates a tenant is that their proof of income doesn't match what they say on the application. I'm not talking about the normal deductions for taxes and medical insurance - I'm talking about significant differences in income so great that they don't qualify. I have them send over the actual copy of paystubs so I can see YTD too. If they have an animal, they have to send pet records and a photo. But the qualifying questions SID mentions will eliminate a lot of the unqualified tenants so you don't waste your time. It's bad enough when they do think they meet the criteria...

Screening new tenants (by Sisco [MO]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 5:00 PM

After initial contact, when viewing credit, court records, job, ask yourself if this person will be easy to garnish wages if need arises.

If you answer yes, this individual would be easy to garnish because they have been with this employer for many years, have professional licensing that is easy to track, have ties to this area. You will likely not have any problem with that individual fulfilling their agreements.

Screening new tenants (by PG [SC]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 5:08 PM

I advertise on line - no sign in the yard.

The following is the pr-screen questions that must be completely answered. This eliminates about 80/90% of the tire kickers and the unqualified.

To complete the processing of your application and ENSURE I have the correct information please provide answers to the following questions with a simple Yes, No or a brief explanation.

Do you rent now and what would your current land lord say about you?

Were you ever EVICTED or asked to move out of a house you were renting? Yes or No

Have you EVER had a judgment placed against you? Yes or No

Is your credit score greater than 600? Yes or No

Have you EVER filed for bankruptcy? Yes or No

Is your monthly Net income at least 3 times the rent? Yes or No

If I did a criminal background check on you what would I find? Do not include minor traffic tickets.

How many will be living in the house?

Could you have someone relative or a supervisor provide a letter of reference about your character? Yes or No

Are you new to the area? Yes or No

Do you currently Smoke? Yes or No

Required move in date?

Would you commit to keeping the house CLEAN? Yes or No

After I receive your response I will review your information and follow up as required.

Then I do a face to face walk thru. To me this is the most important part of the screening process.

Screening new tenants (by MikeA [TX]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 8:14 PM

To further cut down on your time text or email the pre-screening questions to them. I use FB Marketplace and they respond back in messenger. I simply cut and paste my questions back and once I get one with acceptable answers then and only then do I schedule a showing. I probably only do one showing for 20-30 inquiring so it definitely eliminates the majority of unqualified.

Screening new tenants (by Bonanza [NC]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 9:07 PM

The quickest way to get up to speed since you seem to be behind the curve is to go get Mike Butler's Landlording on Autopilot or Landlording: A Handy manual for Scrupulous Landlords and Landladies Who Do It Themselves

by Leigh Robinson

Screening new tenants (by RentsDue [MA]) Posted on: Jul 30, 2020 10:18 PM

A lot of good advice here. Another thing I will add- do not put the address in the ad. Use the street, but not the house number. The desperate are getting unhinged. They donít get the full address until they answer the pre screening questions and qualify for a showing. At this point, there is more to lose than your time.

Screening new tenants (by Coplin [CA]) Posted on: Jul 31, 2020 12:36 PM

PG: Several of your pre-screening questions give the answers you want.

Is your credit score greater than 600?

Try what is your credit score?

Is your monthly Net income at least 3 times the rent?

Try what is your monthly documentable income?

Could you have someone relative or a supervisor provide a letter of reference about your character?

Try What is your supervisors phone number?

Would you commit to keeping the house CLEAN?

Delete this, its useless. What ans other than yes would expect.

For some others you might look at:

Coplin - Your list

Screening new tenants (by PG [SC]) Posted on: Jul 31, 2020 1:52 PM


I will consider your suggestions

The pre screen for me is just the weeding out process.

The YES/NO is quick and easy for the prospect.

I am looking for a prospect that answers ALL of the questions. And that is not very many.

The CLEAN. I will not change that. A clean tenant is almost always a good tenant. Maybe it's different in CA.

The real test is the face to face walkthru. I go over the prescreen questions for additional detail, truthfulness and most importantly I try to determine the prospects character.

I also require Proof of income - written references personal, employment and if I can get it a reference from the local police.

I am a part time LL - 2 or 3 B+ SFH for about 20 years - one eviction with a follow up judgement - asked 3 to leave and they left in 30 days.

Would you say fair results?

THANKS for your input.

Screening new tenants (by Jeffrey [VA]) Posted on: Jul 31, 2020 2:31 PM

Both of the books Bonanza recommends are available right on this website, starting with Landlording on AutoPilot -

Screening new tenants (by SHAUN [FL]) Posted on: Jul 31, 2020 7:52 PM

All that Sid suggested, plus if pet friendly add questions about pets. Digital Questionnaire does limit many.

Just last week, 35 hits, 7 replied to questions, 5 invited to see property. Vacancy in June, 86 hits, 15 replied to questions, top 3 invited to first viewing, never scheduled a second. The difference in number of hits, has to do with price of rent.

Credit checks, look for judgements, who and how much. Gives me an idea if they honor their bills or do they run up credit card then not pay. The same will happen to you.

To make my life easier, I have a page on my desktop of email responses. When I get the answers to the questions back, I copy and paste my reply.

Screening new tenants (by GKARL [PA]) Posted on: Jul 31, 2020 8:29 PM

I handle all prescreening with a Google form i text or message to them. Outside of getting names and birthdates, all questions are short answer, yes or no, or multiple choice. It's about 15 questions that takes them 10 minutes to go through. I've found this very effective in culling the unqualified. No one gets a showing until they pass the pre screening.

Screening new tenants (by Nicole [PA]) Posted on: Aug 1, 2020 9:34 AM

our Pennsylvania public records are great. I'd guess I can get 90% of the info I want from there ...

Screening new tenants (by annie [IN]) Posted on: Aug 2, 2020 10:48 AM

Mike A - Texas - FB Marketplace is what we have been using since COVID popped up on the scene. Copy and paste the questions into the response to the inquiry. We only get about 1 in about 15-20 that responds. Has cut way down on having to show the apartments.

Prior to the prescreen process on FB we had numerous showings, but most of the looky loos did not even have a job, or just started last week. Most had been living with friends or family, and we do not count that as "rental history".

Also, now they think the $600 extra on unemployment qualifies them -- NO, we do not consider unemployment benefits as "income".

And the applicant pool is really thin right now as far as quality applicants. We would rather have an empty than a shaky tenant.

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