Author Topic: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?  (Read 944 times)

flyersman

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Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« on: July 20, 2017, 08:12:23 AM »
If we have a property we are looking to rent out in the Philly college area, are there any suggestions you can make on where to post the rental house and how you go about screening tenants?

We have another property out of state and used an agent who found us an awesome tenant who has stayed for 2 years so far. Cost us 1 month rent as we were out of town and he screens these tenants first.

This house in Philly however I prefer to do it myself. Im covered on the lease part but more so just a little fuzzy on the best steps to take getting to that point.

Overflow

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2017, 08:34:39 AM »
I have used Cozy.co to screen all my tenants. Thats works great so far for me.

(completely unaffiliated with Cozy. Just a happy customer)

Ocinfo

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2017, 08:36:19 AM »
Just used Cozy for the first time this week. Worked well. Only complaint was that the background check took 5 days but did identify a minor issue that the applicant told me about beforehand.


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flyersman

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2017, 09:02:24 AM »
I have used Cozy.co to screen all my tenants. Thats works great so far for me.

(completely unaffiliated with Cozy. Just a happy customer)

What is it? I read their about page but doesnt say much

srad

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2017, 11:06:47 AM »
Another tip, If you are going to be renting to college kids, think about having their parents co-sign. College kids aren't the most responsible tenants yet

Aimza

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2017, 01:53:42 PM »
I also just used Cozy.co and liked the process except that it did miss an order of protection and arrest as it was on a county level.

Neo

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2017, 09:13:04 PM »
I post vacancies on craigslist and screen renters by asking for two recent pay stubs as proof of income. If the income checks out I send them screening applications with Transunion SmartMove. I have the tenants pay for the service. Its $35 for background check, credit check and eviction check. That scares away the deadbeats. They dont want to pay $35 if they know they will fail the screening. If a candidate ends up signing a lease then I deduct the cost of the screening from the first month's rent. The results come back within about 15 minutes of the candidates filling out the app. Worked very well so far.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 09:15:11 PM by Neo »

Bobberth

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2017, 03:19:12 PM »
I use Zillow to advertise my properties. I used to use that and CL but I had 3 break-ins in a row so I stopped CL and haven't had one since. Correlation/causation but I've been having good results without it. My target market is working class. Most of my tenants are making $10-$15/hour with rents in the $700-$900/month range.

Screening starts the moment they walk in the door to look at the place. Yes, everyone needs to view the house in order to get an application. I don't care how good you think the pictures look online, you're wanting to live here so you need to look at it before applying. Pay attention to their mannerisms, how they act and what they say. I just passed on a couple because I didn't get a good gut feeling when they were looking at the place. They didn't seem to be excited for the house and seemed to question each other "Do you think we can pull this off" in their body language. It didn't sit well with me so I put another applicant ahead of them. One lady walked through the front door and without ever turning her head to look at anything, said, "MMM, yea, I love it. It's great." Came to me and pulled $500 out of her bra and offered it if she could move in right now. "I'm sorry I have to follow the same procedure for everybody." "How about $1000?" "I'm sorry, it's against the law. Here is an application you can fill out. It usually takes 2-3 days." She never turned in the application. You definitely want to have a procedure. It can save you in many different ways.

My official screening process: "We do a credit and a background check. For credit, we are not looking for perfect credit. The big thing is no evictions, unpaid rent or landlord actions. We don't like to see unpaid utility bills. Outside of that we like to get a good feeling we will get paid the rent. We don't use credit scores. For the background check we verify all of the information on the application: income, work history and previous landlords. No violent felonies and no sex offenders." It's the same thing I say to everyone, on the phone or in person.

Everything in there is there for a reason. I don't want people that have been through an eviction and know too much about the system. Unpaid rent and landlord actions are slightly different legally here so I added that in to cover my butt. I once accepted a couple where she had landlord damages on her credit from 5-6 years prior. They moved out in the middle of the night and caused about $3k in damages. No more. Once the girlfriend put utilities in her name since boyfriend owed electric company $400. Girlfriend moves out and boyfriend has to come up with hundreds of dollars to keep lights and heat on. Fortunately that happened towards the end of the lease so I just kicked him out instead of evicting. I'm now leery of unpaid utilities. I don't use credit scores because I don't view medical bills or student loans as renting issues but those do affect their score. If someone owes 5 different cell phone providers and had several cars repo'd, then they have problems paying their bills and I wouldn't want to rent to them. Interestingly in the 8 years I've done this I've never actually used credit as an excuse to turn someone down. Usually if they had terrible credit there was something else that they got turned down for so I've never had to do the 'turned down because of credit' procedure. Applicants self-screening has worked well for me. The closest to using the credit report was an applicant that left off 5 addresses in the last 3 years on their application that popped up on their credit report but there are other ways of finding that out as well. I used to say no felonies at all but a liberal friend talked me into changing it to just violent felonies because of drug offenses. I'm not sure I like that change, I had someone at an open house tell me of felony shoplifting 2 years ago. I'm not sure how I feel about that but she never turned in an application so the issue is moot. I'm trying to be a good person but this may have to change. I don't think that legally as a landlord I have to do anything about a sex offender living in my property but if it popped up on a search I personally wouldn't want to rent to them and would need an out. Strangely it works as a bit of 'comedic relief' when giving my spiel, ending with it breaks the tension of all the, "NO NO NO" that came before it. People actually laugh/chuckle after that last part. I don't get it but it lightens the mood.

I use a local company that does tenant screening. They charge $50 an adult or married couple. The fee helps weed people out. Applicants turn the application in to me so I have a chance to pre-screen and I only send 1 application in at a time so 5 people aren't out the money but only 1 can actually move in. Once someone turns in the application, Missouri has all of their court cases online so I will do a quick search for court cases. I've called some up and told them that they were evicted 5 months ago and that they can come to the next open house if they want to get their money back but that they aren't approved. One time somebody applied on Thursday and the eviction had been filed that Monday. We have a pretty good online system in this state. If they pass that, sometimes I will head over to facebook to see if I can find anything out there. I don't do this every time but if I'm a little suspect or needing to choose between a couple of candidates I will. I check out their posts and their friends. After my one and only eviction I did some FB stalking and many of their friends were very thuggish (posing with guns, not in hunting poses) and very drug related in their profile pics. The tenant I evicted was doing and selling heroin. So I look to see if they have normal friends or ones that could be indicative of bad tendencies.

Always be leery of a story. It seems like the more of a story there is, the less favorable the tenant. I really hate to say it but, for the most part, people live where they do for a reason. "The landlord won't fix anything. The roof leaks and is caving in. The toilet doesn't work and he won't fix it...." There is a reason that person lives in such a crappy landlord's property-no better landlords will take them. Smile, nod, say "Oh my", then stick to your procedure and give them an application. They won't be back. In the last few years I've gotten a lot of "Landlord is selling/foreclosing on the building so I have to be out quick." Obviously some are probably true but I haven't heard back from many of those stories so I think it's more of a ruse.

I joke that I love hang ups. Every time somebody hangs up on me while I'm telling them my rental requirements it just saved me time. Pay attention to how they inquire about the property. When somebody leads off with "I'd like some information about the property," it's a lot different than leading with, "What are your requirements?" You're not going to hear from the second one again if you have decent requirements. That's why I also only do open houses to show my properties. It saves me time from setting up a dozen meetings when ten won't show. I also live about 35 minutes from my properties so I work on the properties on the night I'm there showing them. It's easier for me to get work done if I set aside 30 minutes for an open house instead of constantly stopping for people coming at different times. It also adds to the desirability of the house if 6 other people are looking at it at the same time. And if 6 others are looking at it, the weaker candidates will weed themselves out. Recently I did Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for open houses. More than 2 days out and you're risking lots of no-shows.

Learn your state laws. Missouri has a 5 day grace period before rent is considered late. Most have rent due on the 1st so the first day a landlord can send or post a Pay or Quit notice is on the 6th. Then there is a 3 day period before an eviction can be filed. Starting around the 7th/8th of the month, calls & visitors to my open houses go up in numbers but drop in quality by quite a bit as people who just received their notices know they need to get a place quick before the eviction hits their records. Most good tenants are looking for a new place 4-6 weeks out. There are obviously exceptions, but generally this has been my experience. If I have a vacancy today, July 21st, I am looking to fill it for September 1, not August 1. There is going to be a BIG difference in the people looking to move in on each of those dates. This means you can't put yourself if the financial position where you NEED to get someone in Aug 1.

Pay attention. Lots of stuff here was learned from paying attention. I have a specific target market and things will be different in higher or lower classes of rentals. Pay attention to what works and, more importantly, what didn't work. Pay attention to what people say, how they say it and what their body language says. Pay attention to days to look for patterns like my drop in applicant quality. Pay specific attention to when they don't think you're paying attention, "You learn more in an hour of play than a year of conversation."





 

NoNonsenseLandlord

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2017, 01:20:09 AM »
This reply could be 20 pages long...  Here is what I generally do.  Be sure to have a set response to pre-screen tenants, so you do not waste time.

http://www.nononsenselandlord.com/2015/01/get-the-best-tenants-into-your-rental-property/

tralfamadorian

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2017, 06:05:35 AM »
I use Cozy.co for applications and credit/background check as well along with a new gmail address (123mainst@gmail.com) and a google voice number.  My favorite chart of how to list on all the sites (except for Craigslist- in my area the Craigslist renter pool quality is really low) is here:
https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/52/topics/329978-free-rental-listing-sites-and-syndication

Mr.GrowingMustache

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2017, 01:30:52 PM »
I use Zillow to advertise my properties. I used to use that and CL but I had 3 break-ins in a row so I stopped CL and haven't had one since. Correlation/causation but I've been having good results without it. My target market is working class. Most of my tenants are making $10-$15/hour with rents in the $700-$900/month range.

Screening starts the moment they walk in the door to look at the place. Yes, everyone needs to view the house in order to get an application. I don't care how good you think the pictures look online, you're wanting to live here so you need to look at it before applying. Pay attention to their mannerisms, how they act and what they say. I just passed on a couple because I didn't get a good gut feeling when they were looking at the place. They didn't seem to be excited for the house and seemed to question each other "Do you think we can pull this off" in their body language. It didn't sit well with me so I put another applicant ahead of them. One lady walked through the front door and without ever turning her head to look at anything, said, "MMM, yea, I love it. It's great." Came to me and pulled $500 out of her bra and offered it if she could move in right now. "I'm sorry I have to follow the same procedure for everybody." "How about $1000?" "I'm sorry, it's against the law. Here is an application you can fill out. It usually takes 2-3 days." She never turned in the application. You definitely want to have a procedure. It can save you in many different ways.

My official screening process: "We do a credit and a background check. For credit, we are not looking for perfect credit. The big thing is no evictions, unpaid rent or landlord actions. We don't like to see unpaid utility bills. Outside of that we like to get a good feeling we will get paid the rent. We don't use credit scores. For the background check we verify all of the information on the application: income, work history and previous landlords. No violent felonies and no sex offenders." It's the same thing I say to everyone, on the phone or in person.

Everything in there is there for a reason. I don't want people that have been through an eviction and know too much about the system. Unpaid rent and landlord actions are slightly different legally here so I added that in to cover my butt. I once accepted a couple where she had landlord damages on her credit from 5-6 years prior. They moved out in the middle of the night and caused about $3k in damages. No more. Once the girlfriend put utilities in her name since boyfriend owed electric company $400. Girlfriend moves out and boyfriend has to come up with hundreds of dollars to keep lights and heat on. Fortunately that happened towards the end of the lease so I just kicked him out instead of evicting. I'm now leery of unpaid utilities. I don't use credit scores because I don't view medical bills or student loans as renting issues but those do affect their score. If someone owes 5 different cell phone providers and had several cars repo'd, then they have problems paying their bills and I wouldn't want to rent to them. Interestingly in the 8 years I've done this I've never actually used credit as an excuse to turn someone down. Usually if they had terrible credit there was something else that they got turned down for so I've never had to do the 'turned down because of credit' procedure. Applicants self-screening has worked well for me. The closest to using the credit report was an applicant that left off 5 addresses in the last 3 years on their application that popped up on their credit report but there are other ways of finding that out as well. I used to say no felonies at all but a liberal friend talked me into changing it to just violent felonies because of drug offenses. I'm not sure I like that change, I had someone at an open house tell me of felony shoplifting 2 years ago. I'm not sure how I feel about that but she never turned in an application so the issue is moot. I'm trying to be a good person but this may have to change. I don't think that legally as a landlord I have to do anything about a sex offender living in my property but if it popped up on a search I personally wouldn't want to rent to them and would need an out. Strangely it works as a bit of 'comedic relief' when giving my spiel, ending with it breaks the tension of all the, "NO NO NO" that came before it. People actually laugh/chuckle after that last part. I don't get it but it lightens the mood.

I use a local company that does tenant screening. They charge $50 an adult or married couple. The fee helps weed people out. Applicants turn the application in to me so I have a chance to pre-screen and I only send 1 application in at a time so 5 people aren't out the money but only 1 can actually move in. Once someone turns in the application, Missouri has all of their court cases online so I will do a quick search for court cases. I've called some up and told them that they were evicted 5 months ago and that they can come to the next open house if they want to get their money back but that they aren't approved. One time somebody applied on Thursday and the eviction had been filed that Monday. We have a pretty good online system in this state. If they pass that, sometimes I will head over to facebook to see if I can find anything out there. I don't do this every time but if I'm a little suspect or needing to choose between a couple of candidates I will. I check out their posts and their friends. After my one and only eviction I did some FB stalking and many of their friends were very thuggish (posing with guns, not in hunting poses) and very drug related in their profile pics. The tenant I evicted was doing and selling heroin. So I look to see if they have normal friends or ones that could be indicative of bad tendencies.

Always be leery of a story. It seems like the more of a story there is, the less favorable the tenant. I really hate to say it but, for the most part, people live where they do for a reason. "The landlord won't fix anything. The roof leaks and is caving in. The toilet doesn't work and he won't fix it...." There is a reason that person lives in such a crappy landlord's property-no better landlords will take them. Smile, nod, say "Oh my", then stick to your procedure and give them an application. They won't be back. In the last few years I've gotten a lot of "Landlord is selling/foreclosing on the building so I have to be out quick." Obviously some are probably true but I haven't heard back from many of those stories so I think it's more of a ruse.

I joke that I love hang ups. Every time somebody hangs up on me while I'm telling them my rental requirements it just saved me time. Pay attention to how they inquire about the property. When somebody leads off with "I'd like some information about the property," it's a lot different than leading with, "What are your requirements?" You're not going to hear from the second one again if you have decent requirements. That's why I also only do open houses to show my properties. It saves me time from setting up a dozen meetings when ten won't show. I also live about 35 minutes from my properties so I work on the properties on the night I'm there showing them. It's easier for me to get work done if I set aside 30 minutes for an open house instead of constantly stopping for people coming at different times. It also adds to the desirability of the house if 6 other people are looking at it at the same time. And if 6 others are looking at it, the weaker candidates will weed themselves out. Recently I did Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for open houses. More than 2 days out and you're risking lots of no-shows.

Learn your state laws. Missouri has a 5 day grace period before rent is considered late. Most have rent due on the 1st so the first day a landlord can send or post a Pay or Quit notice is on the 6th. Then there is a 3 day period before an eviction can be filed. Starting around the 7th/8th of the month, calls & visitors to my open houses go up in numbers but drop in quality by quite a bit as people who just received their notices know they need to get a place quick before the eviction hits their records. Most good tenants are looking for a new place 4-6 weeks out. There are obviously exceptions, but generally this has been my experience. If I have a vacancy today, July 21st, I am looking to fill it for September 1, not August 1. There is going to be a BIG difference in the people looking to move in on each of those dates. This means you can't put yourself if the financial position where you NEED to get someone in Aug 1.

Pay attention. Lots of stuff here was learned from paying attention. I have a specific target market and things will be different in higher or lower classes of rentals. Pay attention to what works and, more importantly, what didn't work. Pay attention to what people say, how they say it and what their body language says. Pay attention to days to look for patterns like my drop in applicant quality. Pay specific attention to when they don't think you're paying attention, "You learn more in an hour of play than a year of conversation."

excellent write up!!

ponyboy

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Re: Steps for posting rental and screening tenants?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2017, 09:43:46 AM »
Ponyboy will walk the tenants through...then walk them out to their vehicle.  If their vehicle is disgusting inside (trash laying everywhere) thats how they are going to treat your apartment.  At that point those renters are crossed off the list.