According to Forbes, the top 5 America’s Best Employers for New Grads are General Mills, NASA, Google, Mayo Clinic, and Microsoft. While I have no idea how many positions are open, my guess is more people are applying for the companies than there are openings. Those companies can afford to and should make it hard to get a job. By making it harder to apply, they can filter out the good from the bad.
Why am I talking about this? Because I think the same can be said for a screening.
You see, most landlords or property managers look for qualified tenants. But what you should do instead is to try to reject every applicant fairly, reasonably, and legally. And if you find an applicant you have no reason to reject, that is the one that you want to place in your rental unit.
So how do you reject an applicant?
First, don't make it so easy for them to contact you. In other words, don't give out your cell phone number, and be available 24/7. Think about the companies I mentioned above. Do you think you can call an easy-to-find phone number, have a live person answer, and get a job interview scheduled? I don't think so. For example, if you want to work for Google, you have to create your profile, create a career profile, put roll information, do a voluntary self-identification, review, and then you can apply. A phone number you can call is nowhere to be found.
The second thing you want to do is when an applicant contacts you, instead of taking the call and talking to them, have them leave a VM. And instead of calling back, text them back and direct them to a website where they can fill out their information. This will not only save you time, but the process itself will act as a screening process. Chances are those who are persistent and can follow the instructions to fill out the form are better than those who can only make phone calls and don't even bother to leave a voicemail.
Third, review the forms and make sure that they qualify.
Fourth, once you confirm that they qualify, set up the showing with the following instructions.
“Thank you for setting up the showing on this date at this time. I will text you x hours/days before the showing. When you receive the text, please confirm the date and time or I won’t be able to come to the showing.”
This will prevent you from going to the showing, only to find it’s another no-show. Also, this will act as yet another screening tool. Can the applicant follow an instruction and respond, “Confirmed”? Remember, once the applicant becomes a tenant, he or she needs to follow a lot of instructions. You don’t want someone who can’t follow instructions.
After the showing is done, and if the applicant is interested, you can send the application. I prefer to do it digitally for so many reasons. There’s nothing wrong with trying to run your business efficiently.
Once you have the application, make sure you verify all the information. That includes the name, birth date, address, employment, car, credit report, criminal report, pay stubs, etc. Remember, you are looking for a reason to reject!
Once the screening is done, and you just can’t find a reason to reject, well congratulations, you found a great tenant!