A point scoring system creates an objective set of criteria by which you can safely reject unqualified candidates without fear of discrimination charges.
It’s very important to review the point scoring system and tailor it to suit your business. Some landlords run profitable businesses dealing with folks who are so poor they don’t even have housing vouchers (section 8). Others require perfect-credit tenants for luxury apartments. Adjust your point system according to how you operate.
It’s also important to customize your disqualification criteria. Maybe waterbeds are okay. Maybe you’re okay with a tenant who falsifies information. We recommend you stick with our default disqualifications until you know better. A king waterbed holds 300 gallons of water, enough to destroy one floor and the floors below; lying now means lying later, after they have possession of your apartment.
Whatever you decide, set your point scoring system before you start screening applicants and stick to the same scoring system until the apartment is rented and keys are transferred. You can change it based on your experience after the handover but not before. Otherwise you will fail to provide a consistent paper trail should you be called to court for discrimination.
The default scoring presented here makes it difficult but still possible for a.) first-time renters with a co-signer, and b.) bad credit applicants with either high paying jobs or good references.
If a tenant has too few points, you should explain the situation to them and help them to get more points. For instance, our rental application asks tenants if they could borrow money from anyone in the event of a short-term hardship. Well, the name alone is worthless, but if the individual they name has assets and will agree to cosign, now your applicant gets another ten points. In this way you can learn how responsive and cooperative a tenant is, how much they want the apartment, and whether you can find a way to work together on shared problems.