Properly’s Applicant Screening Reports

Applicant Screening

In a prior article, Why Renters Should Run Their Own Credit Reports, we explained the benefits of renters running their own reports as part of the applicant screening process. The primary concerns we received as feedback from readers was the possibility of the reports being outdated or fraudulent. These concerns are certainly valid in cases where the renter is hand-delivering, emailing, or faxing a report to the landlord. The recipient landlord wouldn’t be able to confirm when the report was run and that the information has not been changed.

At Properly, we spent a great deal of effort developing an applicant screening process that is simple to use but more importantly, safe and secure. Here’s how we plan to handle this essential step of the application process.

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6 Considerations For Your Next Rental Home

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What are your considerations for your next rental home?

Definitely the rent amount and number of bedrooms. Perhaps whether there is a doorman or elevators. Maybe the proximity to public transportation or to your favorite restaurants and bars. These are factors that typically pop into renters’ minds. However, there are other qualities that may not be as obvious but can negatively impact the living experience. This is something I know firsthand.

I’ve lived in New York City for 8 years in 3 different neighborhoods – Harlem, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. My first apartment in Harlem was a pretty poor experience. The reason was because I had no idea what to look for when apartment hunting. I knew my budget and I was searching with two roommates so I knew we needed a 3 bedroom apartment. Those were essentially my only considerations. I ended up moving after a year. My second apartment was an improvement but there were negatives there as well. Learning from these negative experiences helped me find my current apartment which I consider to be an ideal fit.

As I reflected on my rental history, I focused on identifying the key negative qualities that contributed to my decisions to move out of the first and second apartments. Of course, such considerations will differ from person to person. Hopefully these examples will help get you thinking outside the box on what really matters to you when making a decision on your next home.

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Make the Switch to Online Rental Applications

Newspaper Ad for Homes

Remember the good ol’ days of listing apartments and houses?

  • Taking out a classified ad in the local newspaper to inform readers as they sip on their morning coffees.
  • Posting a sign on the front lawn for cars driving by.
  • Hand delivering applications to prospective renters for them to fill out either on the spot or snail mail back.

In today’s world, the above tasks are mostly handled online. Listing sites such as Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor have replaced newspaper ads and lawn signs. Marketing on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have also become increasingly popular. It makes sense. Listing and advertising a property online allows the landlord to reach a much wider audience than just counting on cars driving by or people subscribing to a certain newspaper.

Once the landlord attracts a pool of applicants, the next task is to have them submit applications. Curiously, many landlords still handle this task manually with paper applications. Online rental applications have been increasing in usage over the past few years but have not caught on nearly as fast as digital listing and marketing.

Landlords and property managers, if you are still using paper applications, here are reasons to make the switch NOW!

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How to Keep Good Tenants by Channeling Santa, Slickdeals, Miss Cleo, and Ask Jeeves

Landlords spend a great deal of time, effort, and money trying to find the ideal tenants for their rental units. In most cases, landlords are having complete strangers move into their homes. Marketing the property, reviewing applications, screening credit and background histories, checking references, and negotiating appropriate lease terms are all necessary steps to decrease the risk of poor tenants, evictions, and vacancies. Even then, applicants who look perfect on paper may still turn out to be terrible tenants.

What many landlords seem to ignore is dedicating the same effort to retaining high quality tenants. Think about it. These tenants are no longer strangers in the sense that there is history of them paying rent on time, taking care of the property, and being respectful to neighbors. The risk is now much less than when they were applicants.

Landlords often make the mistake of thinking that just by doing their duties as defined in the lease, good tenants will stay.

No! Go above and beyond to retain them!

In a prior article, 7 Ways to Make Your Landlord Appreciate You, we provided tips to tenants on how to get in their landlords’ good graces. As we know, a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship must be a two-way street so how about on the landlord side? What can landlords do to keep good tenants?

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The Consensus Top Landlord Mistakes

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There are many articles written about the most common mistakes made by landlords. Why not learn from other people’s missteps? However, the majority of these articles are written by one person which makes it difficult to tell if the mistakes were from just that one writer’s experience or from multiple sources. If multiple, how many? In what markets? Are they do-it-yourself landlords or professional property managers?

I am a big proponent of leveraging online communities and social networks when it comes to gathering actionable advice on how to be a landlord. Many of the comments posted are from real life landlords from all over the country who are sharing their stories and experiences.

One of the biggest real estate social networks is BiggerPockets. They run a forumlandlord and rental property questions, that has an active user base where there are new posts every several minutes.

A favorite thread of mine is “The Top 5 Landlord Mistakes” (you will find the thread stuck right at the top of the discussion list). This thread is a gold mine for identifying the most common landlord pitfalls with approximately 150 posts spanning 7.5 years. However, it does take a long time to read them all so I created a cliff notes version. As I read through the comments, I paid attention to:

1) the frequency that a mistake was identified AND

2) the answers with a high number of upvotes.

Similar mistakes were grouped in the same category.


And finally, the big unveil…here are…drum roll please…the consensus top landlord mistakes:

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