Tenant Screening for Property Managers: What to Look For
While we do deal largely in the world of Human Resources, we are also well versed in the applicant screening process for property management. There are many platforms available to assist property managers in their task of finding the best possible tenant, so we have put together a list of features to be looking for when shopping around.
To say property managers have a lot on their plate is an incredible understatement. Not only are you responsible for collecting rent every month, you are also tasked with scheduling repairs, marketing the home when vacant, weeding out applicants that don’t meet owner criteria, and on and on in a seemingly neverending list of tasks! But at the core, you are there to protect your client’s biggest asset. This doesn’t just mean from elemental damage or long term vacancy, but from potentially bad tenants as well.
The strongest way to mitigate risk is to start from the first point of contact and have a well-rounded screening process in place. As we said before, there are many options out there to achieve this, so how do you know which one will work the best for your organization? Take a look at our list of must-haves for 2016:
1) Online Rental Application
There are many companies that are still operating on paper, and we always wonder why. Sure, it’s a good idea to keep that option open for those applicants who may not have access to a computer, but you also want to widen your audience and capture potential tenants as quickly as possible. There’s no better way than to have an application at the ready, preferably on the same page as your for-rent listing!
2) Employment and Income Verification
We speak to property managers frequently who just grab recent pay stubs and never really take it farther. The problem with this approach is that these documents can be falsified, and you also never get a sense of what kind of standing that applicant is in with their employer. It puts you as a property manager in a tough spot when you take on a new tenant and they lose their job within their lease term.
3) Rental Reference and Eviction Search
This step flat-out gets skipped at an alarming rate. Without references how do you know what kind of tenant you are taking on? Without an eviction search how can you be sure that this person will last the length of the lease?
4) Integrated Credit and Criminal Reports
A problem we’ve run into with some platforms is that you have to go to multiple places just to gather information on one applicant. In our opinion these reports should be integrated in one place so you can make an easy and clear decision without bouncing around.
5) Multiple Factor Decision Criteria
Ultimately the criteria set for people who apply to meet has to be agreed upon by the property owner and the property manager. We believe that these criteria should be integrated into your screening dashboard, and should pop up as a red flag when not met.
6) Easy-To-Read Reports
Pretty self explanatory. What good is all this information if it takes you forever to read and understand it? The heavy lifting should be done by your platform, and the decision should be made easy based on that heavy lifting.
7) Fully Automated Risk Analysis
With so many criteria, it’s only natural that the data being brought in should be used as a targeted way to assess risk.
8) Multiple User Web Access
As your property management business grows, so may your staff. It’s important for every member of your team to be able to operate quickly and efficiently in the system wherever they are.
9) Electronic Rental Agreement Generation
Typing up agreements manually is, and should be, a thing of the past. Look to make things easier by having the agreement already loaded in a fully-integrated system.
10) Denial Letter Generation
Rejecting applicants is nobody’s favorite thing to do. We recommend a system that has a denial letter auto-generated for ease of sending and also for consistency in the event someone feels they were denied as a result of discrimination. Having the same information on every denial letter helps to keep you compliant!