Looking at rental homes: up front requirements

I was speaking to a potential tenant about what was required prior to going out and looking at rental homes. In addition to discussing new home requirements and selecting homes to see, there are two documents that all tenants must provide before we start viewing homes. They are:

Application: The application is a two-sided document that requires information such as name and current address, employment location and contact, amount of pay and length of time in job, reason for moving, information on pets and number of people living in the home and more. The same application is used regardless of which home is selected.

Credit Report: The credit report can be either supplied by the tenant or ordered new by the tenant, but either way, it needs to be submitted to me prior to looking for homes. All landlords in our area request a credit report along with the application.

The particular potential tenant mentioned above was unwilling to complete these forms prior to looking at homes. When I first started in real estate, I would collect these forms only if the tenant found the home they wanted to rent. I learned as time went on that this was not the most successful method for the tenant or for me. So here are the reasons why these forms are required up front:

rental applicationHelping find the right home:  I can only help a tenant find the correct home if I know the information contained in the application and credit report. There are homes listed with a requirement that the landlord wants no applications submitted with credit scores of, for example, 700 or lower. If a tenant’s credit score is 625, then I can call the listing agent to see how firm the credit rule is, but if it is firm, it’s a waste of time to view that home. Also, if a particular home will not accept pets, it gets knocked off the list of potentials. Those are just a few examples. Having all the correct information up front helps me help a tenant find the right homes to view.

Assisting serious renters only: If a tenant is truly interested in finding a home, they won’t have a problem filling out an application and providing a credit report. If they just want to “house-shop”, or if they are not quite ready to rent yet, then they usually won’t provide the information. Since rentals go quickly in my area, a person who isn’t quite ready to rent won’t have the same selection of homes when they are ready to move in. Making sure I am assisting only those who are serious about their home search will ensure I am best utilizing my time, the landlord’s time, and of course the tenant’s.

Knowing the facts: People don’t always know what their credit scores are. I’ve had tenants say they are sure they have a 750+ credit score, and then we find out it’s only 554 when we get ready to submit an application. This process doesn’t help anyone. The tenant has fallen in love with a home they can’t get, we’ve wasted time driving around to other non-possible homes, and we’ve had landlords and existing tenants get homes ready for a showing unnecessarily.  Other data points are also critical to know up front. For example, the income levels can help us determine which homes to look at — I had a renter one time who viewed a home that rented for $850 a month. I didn’t find out until he filled out the application that he only claimed $500 a month as income. 

Being ready to apply: Good rental homes go quickly in my area. Some details on the application might need to be investigated – for example, not everyone knows who should be called for employment or rental history verification. Making sure the application is completed correctly and fully ahead of time means when that perfect home is found, the application and credit reports are ready to go. Being ready means my clients won’t miss out on the home of their dreams due to paperwork delays.

There are definitely reasons why I require the application and credit report prior to going out to look at homes. If you are serious about finding a new home, I’m sure you will understand. Call me on 914-419-0270 when you are ready to find your new rental home in the Orange County NY area.


Originally posted in ActiveRain.


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