I have been asked about my screening philosophy, the process for screening and qualifying tenants. It's important to have a rental agreement and move-in monies up front. But before they sign on, here is my approach to screening for the best fit.
a.) get enough points to pass the application,
b.) present the full amount of move-in money (first and security), and
c.) sign the rental agreement
will get the apartment.
I have had lots of people offer to put down money during the tour. I always explain the race to qualify. I've never had any of those kinds of applicants win the race.
The application almost always requires follow-up contact so I can judge their interest level. Usually I have multiple applications in progress with various point scores.
Only once have I ever paid for a credit score only to have someone flake out at the move-in money step. Usually by then it's clear whether they want it.
When I schedule the move-in money collection I tell them we'll also be reviewing and signing the rental agreement. I offer to email them the agreement in advance if they want. We review and sign the rental agreement at the same time I take any money.
I do the cheapest application checks first. For instance, if they haven't shown me their pay stubs, I don't pay to pull their credit. I do the least work possible by checking the most likely failure point first. I tell the applicants the weak spot. Some correct it to get more points, some don't.
Credit is always the last thing I do. Usually I get away with paying for one application's worth of credit reports per vacancy.
I view the trouble I go through as cost of doing business. I've found it's also a good indicator of applicant interest and willingness to get along.