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How to Make Your Rental Application Process Fair and Accurate

Posted by sonrise on May 3, 2023
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A rental application is one of the best ways for landlords to get a fast and thorough look at a prospective tenant. It’s an important step in the rental process, and one that landlords should never skip. Each individual who wishes to rent a unit you own should be required to fill one out to ensure that they are going to be a good renter.

But creating a rental application has its share of potential downsides, and there are a lot of ways landlords can make mistakes during this process. Below are some tips for how to make your rental application process fair and accurate.

How to Make Your Rental Application Process Fair and Accurate

Everyone gets the same application

First and foremost, you need to create the actual rental application. Whether you ask potential tenants to fill out a paper copy or to submit their application electronically, it’s important that you have one basic application ready to go for every prospective renter. Each adult who wishes to rent from you must be required to fill out your application, without exception.

Be upfront about what you’re offering

A rental application is generally thought of as a way for landlords to learn useful information about potential tenants. And that’s true, but it’s also an opportunity for you to lay out what you’re offering, and what you’re requiring from tenants, so there will be no confusion further down the line.

The application should include the landlord’s name and address, along with the address of the rental property. Include whether you’re offering a fixed-term or periodic tenancy, along with any deposits or fees you will be requiring. The rental application is also a good opportunity to lay out your rules about things like smoking and pets.

Avoid asking for discriminatory information

One of the most common mistakes landlords make in their rental applications is asking for information that could be viewed as discriminatory. Under the Fair Housing Act, collecting any of the following information can be considered discrimination:

  • Birthplace, race, or nationality of the applicant
  • Religion of the applicant
  • Gender or sexual orientation of the applicant
  • Any disabilities that the applicant may have
  • The applicant’s marital or familial status

Do not ask for any of the above information on your rental application to avoid any possibility of coming across as discriminatory. Also avoid asking about citizenship status and arrest records (you may ask about past criminal convictions, but not arrests).

Include notices and authorization for screening

A big part of the reason that rental applications are important is that they provide landlords with the basic information they need to run a screening report on a prospective tenant. Your application should also let the person filling it out know that a report will be run, along with which provider is running the reports and how the applicant can get a copy of the results if they so desire.

It’s also important that you get the applicant’s authorization to run a screening report (i.e., background check), and the application itself is a good opportunity to do so. It should also include authorization to contact references and verify that the information provided is correct.

Work with professional property management

One of the surest ways to ensure that your rental application process is fair and accurate is to work with a dedicated property management company. Part of a professional property manager’s job is to oversee the application and screening process and to avoid all of the potential pitfalls that can present.

Contact us today to learn more about property management and talk with our team about how we can help make your renter application process better and more efficient.

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