There are a lot of reasons why you decided to become a landlord. On top of the potential profits, there is something satisfying about helping people get a great place to live and then working with them as their property manager. Being a landlord can be very satisfying work.
But that doesn’t mean that every part of the process is enjoyable!
Many landlords find that the application process is the absolute worst part of being a landlord, and there are many reasons they feel like that. Mostly, they feel like they are wasting a lot of time for one reason or another.
Unfortunately, the application process is a key point in being a landlord and managing properties, so it isn’t something that you can just completely skip.
Time wasted is money lost, so if you feel like you’re wasting time on applications, it’s time to check out these 5 tips to save time during the application process.
A Table Of Contents For More Efficient Applications
- Require Complete Applications
- Update Your Rental Application
- Use A Tenant Screening Service
- Consider Charging An Application Fee
- Require Early Applications
1. Require Complete Applications
The first thing that you must do when you are accepting rental application is to require that all applications are complete. If a potential tenant turns in an application that does not have all of the information completed, do not process it.
Do not look at it. Do not call them and ask them to resubmit their application unless you have no other applicants.
Simply speaking, you do not have the time to be chasing down every single client or working with applicants that are not willing to give you complete information. If they leave out something important like their identity verification information, you also won’t be able to properly screen them.
All of the information that you collect on your rental application should be necessary for making a decision about the tenant. If they do not fill out the application, you cannot make your decision. It’s that simple, and you won’t be spending time on applications that go nowhere any longer.
2. Update Your Rental Application
Save more time while processing applications by updating your application. This is especially important if you’ve been using the same application for more than five years. The rental industry constantly changes, so you need to update your rental application from time-to-time as well.
Most applications include the following information:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Previous addresses (including previous landlord references)
- Emergency contacts
- Employment & income verification
- Driver’s license number
- Social security number (for credit & background check)
- Personal references and contact numbers
Additionally, you will want to make sure that your application includes a consent form for background and credit checks. Without proper permission from an applicant, you cannot run these checks.
Make sure that your application doesn’t include any questions about protected classes, and take the time to add some personalized information about the property as well.
What do we mean by personalized information? Essentially, this means that you should add property-specific information that potential tenants should know before they apply.
For example, if the property will be a non-smoking property or will not include any parking access, mention that in the application notes. It may seem a bit strange, but taking the time to add this information can be beneficial.
When you put upfront information such as no pets on the application itself, it is less likely for potential tenants that aren’t going to be a good fit to fill the application out at all. If they do not fill out the application, you don’t have to spend any time processing it.
It can seem counterintuitive to want fewer applications, but you don’t want to waste time on applications that will go nowhere.
3. Use A Tenant Screening Service
The next point in today’s list of five tips to save time during the application process is to hire a tenant screening service. With a tenant screening service such as RentPrep, the service will run the potential tenants’ information through the appropriate checks.
The service will ensure that:
- The applicant is who they say they are
- Their background checks are accurate
- Their credit checks are accurate
- The information that you see is compliant with all laws and regulations
You can do all of this on your own, but it can take more time to work through the details, make sure the information is lining up properly, and ensure that you aren’t using any information that is off-limits for landlord decision-making.
By leaving it up to an experienced service, you can spend your time more efficiently.
4. Consider Charging An Application Fee
If permitted in your state and local jurisdiction, you may want to consider charging an application fee.
Landlord experience and studies have shown that tenants are less likely to put in applications that they aren’t serious about if they have to pay a fee. Additionally, being able and willing to pay a small application fee can show something positive about a potential tenant.
Finally, the fee can be used to offset the cost of running background and credit checks, and a fee should never be used to make a profit. The idea here isn’t to make more money but to limit the number of applications to those that are truly serious about your properties.
5. Require Early Applications
Some landlords will waste a lot of their own time by taking too many would-be tenants on multiple tours, only to have them never fill out an application.
While it can be okay to show the property to prospective tenants before they apply, the preference should be to have them fill out a rental application before you take the time to give them a one-on-one showing.
Many tenants are just shopping around and not ready to actually rent. While they might be good tenants in three years, you need tenants that are ready to rent now. By requesting that tenants fill out applications early on in the search process, you’ll be able to limit how much time you spend on tours that lead nowhere.
If you are feeling weird about accepting applications to property that they haven’t seen yet, consider inviting interested parties to a singular open house. You can accept applications at the open house, but spend less time on the process than you would be giving individual showings.
Your Time Is Precious
Sometimes, you might feel like it’s no big deal if you spend a little bit too long going through rental applications, but you need to remember that you have other things that need to be done. Tenants need your help with problems at their rentals; your backers want to know if you’re ready to purchase another property.
Every minute that you waste on an application that goes nowhere is a minute that could be spent doing something productive, so remember:
- Limit showings before applications
- Require complete applications
- Update your applications
- Try a tenant screening service
- Consider charging a fee
With these 5 tips to save time during the application process on hand, you’ll be moving through applications more efficiently than ever before.