Screening Philosophy

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.

Screening PhilosophyI tell all applicants that it's basically a race.  The first team to

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.