Back in the day, onboarding new tenants consisted of a few quick reference checks, some pay stubs, and a handshake. Ok, that was way, way back in the day, but the point is that tenant management has evolved along with everything else. We are no longer limited to paper applications and file cabinets, instead, we have large amounts of technology available to support onboarding new tenants with technology.
So how can you embrace the times and get both an effective and affordable tenant management process in place? Here are some ideas.
Online Rental Applications
Chances are the Millenials and Generation Z will be a large part of your applicant pool. These generations are digital natives, experiencing more of the world since the implementation of the internet and cell phones than they have without it. Pew Research notes that Generation Z is both highly educated and digitally savvy, meaning they can easily navigate the application process online.
Whether you use a tenant management service or create your own form in a service such as Google forms, you need an online rental application.
Don't worry - online applications can always be printed for that in-person signature when handing over the keys, but allowing tenants to submit all their details online will simplify the application process, as well as help, attract young and educated renters. After all, some of these applicants haven't used pen and paper since they attended school.
Online Screening Tools
This is an area where you absolutely need to embrace technology. You can easily purchase an online criminal history, credit check, or simple person search to help verify an applicant's credentials and information. You may also choose to use an all-in-one service like RentSpree, which provides standard checks as well as a 50 state eviction history. There really isn't an offline substitute for this type of comprehensive information.
Do remember, however, that while it is legal to get a future tenants permission to conduct a thorough background review, how you act upon this information is guided by local, state, and federal fair housing laws.
If you have multiple applicants, and/or multiple rentals, you can use technology to help track rental candidates including date of application, ongoing correspondence, background review, references, deposits, and move-in dates. If you are using an all-in-one software program, this tracking info may be part of the deal. If not, check out the many free Microsoft Excel templates to get a fast and simple setup for managing your property. And don't forget your finance software too. Recording payments for onboarding should be part of your digital finance management in addition to any tenant-pay online portals or digital tracking of regular rent payments.
If you have multiple properties, it's likely you'll be communicating the same policies and amenities over and over again. Don't get stuck on repeat, use tech to simplify the onboarding orientation. Create a welcome to the community website such as a fast and simple Squarespace design to introduce new tenants to the property. Use a locking feature on WordPress to create a tenant portal that easily communicates policies, updates, and maintenance issues to a select few. Develop an onboarding eBook that you can send out via email creating a visual guide with an explanation to help with new tenant orientation.
The possibilities are limitless, and the options are often simple and affordable with the ability to scale as you grow. Establish clear communications with tenants early to help prevent later issues.
Renting, like everything else, has gone digital. Moving more of your processes online can help you better manage your applicant information, dive further into background research, and better manage rental expectations and community guidelines upfront. There are many digital solutions available at every price point, some requiring more tech knowledge than others.
And don't forget -- it's still a pandemic.
In order to prevent the spread of the SARS-COV2 novel coronavirus, any options you can provide that minimize close talking and touching will help keep your community safer. Your digital tenant tools may even attract concerned renters who worry about multiple in-person meetings.
Use the digital tools available to maximize your time and efficacy as a property manager. It's a fact that onboarding new tenants today requires you to incorporate technology.