Property Management: Tenant Screening, When Does It Start?
On a daily basis, when I speak with property investors, I always get asked the same question: When does tenant screening really start? For us, the tenant screening process starts as soon as a prospective tenant requests information about a property. We have automated our response system where each prospective tenant gets several emails and text messages from us before they even show up to look at a property. So, when do we really start the tenant screening process?
Well, it starts with the first follow up email. It includes articles and videos which talk about who we are, what makes our property management company different for the tenants, and what we are looking for in a tenant. The articles that are included are listing items that we would be looking for at final screening and what kind of traits, habits, documents they will need when they show up for an appointment. So the first tenant screening step occurs when we educate our prospects about what is expected and by that tell them what is not acceptable.
Second step is quickly followed by another email that goes out to the prospect with a link for them to schedule an online appointment and get more information about a property. Before they can schedule an appointment however, they have to answer a set of questions which further pre-qualifies the prospect. Questions such as do you have a job and verifiable income (we list the specifics that we accept), is the income high enough, do they smoke, have pets, etc. etc. Kind of like a short survey, it has to be filled out before an appointment is scheduled.
Many times, we'll be communicating with a prospect via email as to their particular needs, answer questions and keep talking about qualifications. We also have a whole page dedicated to tenant qualifications on our web site where we often refer the prospects. We have minimum age and credit restrictions as well as a great deal of other information on the page. For example, we break down for prospects how many people we'll allow to occupy a property based on a number of bedrooms. And of course our third step in tenant screening occurs during our conversations with prospects. All this information is collected and held until an application is filled out.
Our system is online based, so when prospects show up for an appointment, they are given a card with our web site information where they can go and easily fill out an application, pay the application fee online and submit required documents to us. All at the same time. When all the information is received, we pull a back ground check, an eviction check, a credit report and a criminal background check. We personally verify all information provided and once we gather all the data, we score all the information we received on a point system. Minimum scores are required to secure a property. If we feel that the prospect will be a good one, we may ask for co-signers or other documents and will ask for higher deposits.
Our goal is to protect our property owners by beginning the tenant screening process as early as possible, gathering as much information as we possibly can about a prospect so we can make an educated decision. As investors ourselves, our goal is to provide "by investors" for investors property management services that will maximize your ROI, reduce maintenance expenditures, and keep residents in your properties as long as possible. For resident rewards incentive programs, please see our website under resident rewards.
If you have questions regarding tenant screening, please give us a call at 404-937-1850 or visit our site for more information. www.alhpodlanad.com.
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Realty & Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at www.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+, Blogger. and YouTube, Bigger Pockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.