Choosing between different rental applications

Wednesday, 6th Feb 2013


For a landlord, it’s a nice problem to have. Your vacant property has been advertised, there have been countless inspections and now you have received numerous applications. So how do you pick the right applicant?

Screening rental applications is a crucial process. Choosing the right tenant can mean fewer issues and a better maintained property.

While every landlord has a different situation, here are some general tips on choosing between different applications.

It sounds obvious, but consider what you really want in a tenant. At a basic level, you might want a tenant who pays their rent on time and takes good care of the premises. But you may also want a tenant who is going to stay put for a number of years, and this may affect your choice of applicant. In this case, you may place increased importance on the applicant’s previous rental history and the reasons for the applicant leaving their current property.

What if one applicant is offering to pay above the asking price? While the possibility of extra income may be alluring, selecting on this basis alone can lead to disastrous consequences. While a tight rental market might be encouraging applicants to offer more than the asking price, some tenants are forced to offer more because of a poor history or references.

Checking references is very important and one of the time-consuming jobs typically performed by a property manager. Reference checking generally involves obtaining feedback from the tenant’s previous property managers or landlords regarding the tenant’s tenure, payments, and cleanliness.

A reference check may also involve calling the applicant’s employer to confirm they have a job, can pay the rent, are a good employee, and likely to continue working.

Checking personal references may also uncover information that is useful in screening applicants, though it’s important to allow for a certain degree of bias with references from friends and family.

Above all, when deciding between different applications, discuss this with your property manager. In most cases, your property manager would have met the applicants and this will reveal a great deal of information.

Ask your property manager what their impression was of the various applicants. Good property managers have an instinct for knowing which tenants would best suit a particular property and can therefore save landlords a lot of time and money over the long term.