So, you created a great Craig’s List ad like we suggested in the last post. Now, your inbox is filling up with emails from prospective tenants that would like to see your property. How do you respond? Do you email them back with a time to meet? Do you rush out to your property to meet them?
Well, you could do that. But, to save yourself and the prospects lots of time, why don’t you try emailing back a response that goes something like this:
I will be happy to set up a showing of my property with you.
Before we confirm a time though, please answer the following questions for me:
1) When are you looking to rent (right away, a specific date) ?
2) How long of a lease are you looking for (minimum 12 months) ?
3) Do you have pets (number of pets, type, size) ?
4) How many persons will reside in the property ?
5) What is the credit of each adult (fair, good, excellent) ?
6) Do you have a rental history (prior landlords) ?
7) Do you have income (how much, full-time/part-time, salary or commission) ?
There is an $xx application fee per adult if you decide to apply to rent the property.
All adults will have to pay the application fee and all adults will have to be on the lease. 1 month rent due at lease signing and 1 month security deposit due prior to move-in. No exceptions.
Your credit, past rental history and employment will be verified. Please note that good credit is very crucial. If you have outstanding late payments or judgments, this will negatively impact your application
The email may seem like overkill. It may scare off a large portion of the prospective tenants. However, serious and well qualified tenants will understand why you ask the questions and they will be happy to provide the answers.
You will have to take care with some of the questions above. For example, question #7 that deals with income could be problematic depending upon where you are located. It may be tempting to ask for the source of the funds (and you can typically do that.) However, in some areas (like Washington D.C.) you cannot discriminate based on the source of income (i.e Section 8/Housing Voucher income.) You can and should “discriminate” based on things like income level,credit and rental history.
Similarly for question #4 (the number of people.) You may ask but you may not typically discriminate as long as the number of people applying is within the maximum number of people permitted (various guidelines for this.) For example, in a 2 bedroom it may be permitted to house up to 4 persons – denying an application for that unit just because you would like two persons instead of four would likely be a Fair Housing violation.
I could go on about seeing-eye dogs, comfort animals etc but I am sure you get the picture. Before you start looking for a tenant, please educate yourself on Fair Housing – reading this Fair Housing brochure is a good start. Being educated will protect you from a discrimination claim, makes business sense and is the right thing to do.
Next time we will look at how you can make sure people actually turn up at the showing appointment – see the article here.
Finding and qualifying tenants could get you in trouble if you don’t follow the rules and regulations that are out there. If you would rather have professional help please contact us. We do leasing all the time and can also assist with professional management of your properties.