COMMON APPLICANT SCREENING MISTAKES
Every property manager has the task of screening applicants. The property manager wants to find good residents who will pay rent on time, not disturb the neighbors, and take good care of the property. The flip side of that is the property manager wants to weed out applicants who will fail to pay rent, have keg parties, or choose to remodel the unit. The decision will be easier if you avoid these mistakes.
“The screening criteria are in my noggin, not on paper.”
Every property management team should have a clear, written screening policy. All staff who deal with the leasing process should be aware of the policy and have her own copy at her desk. Management must train staff, so they are aware of and follow the policy consistently with all applicants.
“I never tell the screening criteria to anyone.”
A property manager’s best tool to prevent potential fair housing complaints is a paper that tells prospective residents about the criteria that will be used in evaluating the application. It does not have to be a copy of the policy itself. Rather, it can be an inviting document that lets a prospect know about the rental property.
“Once denied, I never talk to the applicant again.”
If a property manager declines an application, or puts extra monetary conditions on acceptance, an “adverse action” letter must be sent to the person. That adverse action letter, if completed properly, tells the applicant everything he is entitled to know. It allows the property manager to communicate the decision to the applicant honestly and quickly.
If the applicant demands to more information or explanation, he should diplomatically be referred to the adverse action letter and the paper he initially received about the criteria that would be used. Details not contained within the adverse action notice should not be volunteered.
“I rely on my gut reaction in choosing a resident.”
While experience is invaluable, it is important to make sure one’s experience is not influenced by biases that could be discriminatory. Every manager has had the experience of the resident who “looked” okay and then turned out to be a bad resident. That, as well as fair housing complaints, can be avoided by having a written screening policy. Working on assumptions and experience alone just doesn’t cut it.
“I choose the best applicant from a pool.” Where there are several people competing for the same unit, it is best to treat them on a first-come, first-serve basis. When you reach a qualified applicant who meets your screening criteria, stop screening and offer the unit to that applicant.
Property managers should date and time stamp applications so there is no confusion about who was first. If an application is not complete (for example, when a resident needs to bring in a paycheck stub), date and time stamp it when it is complete.
- The Curable Noncompliance Examined PART 1
- THE CURABLE NONCOMPLIANCE EXAMINED PART 2
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION – WHAT IT IS
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION AND THE FULL UNIT
- WORK ORDER COMPANY POLICY AND THE LAW