While it may seem like just basic personal information, an online rental application can give you a surprisingly in-depth look at your prospective tenant. As an agent dealing with rentals, anything that can give you detailed knowledge of your applicant while saving time is invaluable.
Screening your tenant thoroughly is still important, but the online rental application can give you preliminary information such as rental history that will weed out bad candidates and prevent you from wasting time and resources on unnecessary background and credit checks.
Additionally, online rental applications are advantageous because they force the applicant to provide all of the information listed. Gone are the days of back-and-forth scanning and faxing of incomplete between you and your prospective tenant. Without further ado, here are three tell-tale signs that you can use to tell a good renter just from his or her online rental application.
Tell-Tale Sign No. 1: Rental History
History tends to have a way of repeating itself. One way you can determine if you have a good renter on your hands is looking at his or her rental history.
Many online rental applications ask for current and previous residence information. Talking to a previous landlord is a great way to get to know your applicant’s rental history and get an idea of how they will be as a tenant.
However, you should be aware that landlords who vehemently dislike their tenants tend to give false positive information just to get rid of them. In order to get a more accurate rental history, you should dig deeper by calling a previous landlord listed. Speaking to a previous landlord means that landlord is more likely to reveal the truth about the applicant. Therefore, you should always call the previous landlord in addition to the current one.
Tell-Tale Sign No. 2: Employment History
In addition to rental history, most online rental applications contain an employment section. This information can be used to gauge an applicant’s financial situation, aka whether or not they’ll be able to get rent in on time.
Talking to professional references can give you details about your applicant’s work ethic and responsibility, which are imperative tenant verification attributes.
While in a perfect world we’d like to be able to trust every applicant’s financial information given on their online rental application, we simply can’t. When you contact a tenant’s employers, make sure you verify the following pieces of information:
- Duration of employment
- Behavior/reliability as an employee
With this information, you can get a more accurate picture of the applicant to help you in your decision.
Tell-Tale Sign No. 3: Personal References/Other Information
Personal references are also a part of most online rental applications. While many of them are friends or relatives, personal references can be valuable sources of information regarding your applicant’s personality and character. Having an immoral tenant can lead to obvious problems, as can one that is loud, and disrespectful. In addition, you can ask them about their rental history as well, to see if they say anything different from their previous landlords.
Furthermore, many online rental applications have a miscellaneous section, in which an applicant may disclose pets, smoking status, and other information that may draw flags. Ignoring this section would be unwise, as many landlords have strict smoking and pet policies.
The Bottom Line
When choosing a tenant screening service, understanding the components of an online rental application and what they mean is crucial. You want to make sure you’re asking the right questions about an applicant’s rental history.
Failing to do so means you and your client could be in for a shock later down the road. The last thing you want is to be involved in an eviction resulting from fraudulent rental history. Luckily, this can often be avoided with due diligence.