Rental Screening Process

This week we’re focusing on automating the rental screening process with tenant applicants. This will include automated emails to rental requests and calendar synching with appointment reminders.

It can be frustrating when you post your rental listing and get replies that seem like they never read it.

Why Automate The Screening Process?

So it may not be fully automated, but let’s automate things as much as possible. As with anything with a standard setup, the importance of having a process is simple; we hope it allows for less stress, leads to the best result and expands further opportunities for growth.

Steps To Automate Tenant Screening

Ah yes — here it is! The answer you’ve finally been looking for. Let’s eliminate some of the screening stress when sorting through dozens of rental applicants.

Create Screening Criteria

First things first, what do you want in a tenant? Be careful here, as discrimination can come into play in some aspects. Be sure that when coming up with your tenant screening guidelines, you comply with the Fair Housing Regulations. But, in general, what do you look for regarding income, credit score, lifestyle, eviction acceptance etc.? What about the fact that you like to run background checks on applicants and want them to pay, let’s say $35. That is, in fact, part of your criteria. Additional criteria broken down can include:

-Solid credit history

-Great landlord references

-Eviction-free

-Efficient income

-Clean background check

Nail The Rental Listing

You’ve come up with your tenant screening criteria, aka your expectations, now it’s time to flaunt them. This is the time to be straightforward, no fluff. For example, in your listing, you could say, “An applicant is required to authorize a background check with a $35 application fee when applying.”

Let’s break this down a bit. A more serious tenant is likely more susceptible to paying a rental application fee than someone just browsing, so one of your criteria is already met. You want to make sure that you are transparent with the tenant. Tell them how much the rent is and the rules and regulations specific to your rental. For example, “Rent is $1200 / month. No pets etc.” By listing out your requirements, you’re doing something called pre-screening. Setting the expectation ahead of time often results in more “qualified” tenants for your rental.

Establish Email Messaging

So, this is where we get into the nitty-gritty of things. Let’s say even after listing out all of your criteria, you’ve got twenty applications to review. Let’s say it’s still a lot in your eyes and you want to try to weave applicants out even more. What is your next step? Email.

Create A List

We know it may go without saying, but remember, if you’re looking to send emails, be sure to collect email addresses. It may require some additional time to create a .csv of emails [here’s what a .csv is if you don’t know], but it’s an essential step for those looking to automate their emails.

Build Follow-Ups

Follow-up emails to rental applications are a great way to sort out rental applicants. In these follow-up emails, you could include the following:

 -Additional screening questions

-A button click to confirm their interest

-A simple reiteration of what to expect

By doing a follow-up email, someone who filled out your rental application may have changed their mind about renting your property.

Use Canned Responses

We want to create a buffer between you and applicants who can waste your time. In the video below, we’ll show you how to set up canned responses that will put your criteria front and center with your applicant and also share a link for them to choose a time to chat over the phone.

Calendly.com is free to use, along with canned responses in Gmail.

Start Reviewing Applications

Yay! This should be exciting because you’re about to fill your rental property with the best tenant ever, right? Let’s be honest, this process and the ideology of trying to “choose the perfect tenant” can be overwhelming. So, let’s try to simplify things as much as possible.

Put your top candidates together and get those background or credit checks rolling. But, take note! Not all towns or cities allow for specific background checks, like criminal, in the rental screening process. When you can, it’s vital to vet the tenant’s financial, credit and criminal history before moving forward whatsoever. Check out this article for more information on adequately reviewing these types of documentation.

Narrow Down Potential Applicants

Once you’ve reviewed the documentation, it’s time to narrow down your potential tenant selection. Maybe you found out that your applicant has a criminal past or that they went bankrupt back in 2020. Whatever you find, run back through your tenant screening criteria to ensure that the documentation that comes back on the potential tenant is everything you’ve ever wanted!

Schedule Property Showings

This is where that email list we put together above comes into use. If you didn’t have a chance to put together a list, no worries, a simple phone call follow-up to the potential tenant will do just fine. However, if you want to automate the rental screening process, we’ll use that email list you put together earlier. Once you’ve reviewed the applications and additional documentation, it’s time to clean up your email list.

Take out all the rental applicants who are no longer a potential fit for your rental. Once that happens, congrats! You’ve officially built a clean email list. From here, we’ll use that email list and create another canned response and that handy dandy tool you set up earlier, known as Calendly. Using Calendly, we can create a canned response for potential tenants to schedule a property showing.

Pay Close Attention

The property showing is significant as it allows you to meet your next potential renters and analyze how they interact, etc. Most of the time, landlords use this first meeting, as if it’s an employer interviewing a prospective employee, to get an idea of the tenant’s overall vibe. It’s a time for the landlord to get to know their potential tenants and see how well the first meeting goes.

Choose Your Tenant

We’ve gone through the initial rental listing process, setting up your rental application for success, establishing tenant criteria, creating & automating email campaigns for your rental business, showing your property and now, drumroll please, it’s time to choose your tenant. Woohoo! Once you’ve chosen your tenant, set up your lease agreement for success. Check out this article for how to set up a rental lease agreement.

Ready To Automate?

So, we’ve learned that you can’t completely automate the entire tenant screening process, but in some cases, a lot of the work can be done via automation. At first, setting up automation can seem daunting, but as you grow your real estate portfolio, the bigger picture of establishing an automated rental screening process will do wonders.