Setting Minimum Application Requirements for Tenants

Posted in Blog  
  on Feb 09, 2016

When you first put together your minimum requirements for a tenant, it's important to have rules and stick to them.

Fluctuating vacancy rates can make it tough to stick to your guidelines, but just a few false steps will make you remember why you put them in place to begin with. Before you sign an agreement with any tenant, you should have a fairly stringent application process.

Decide on the application requirements, including the minimum credit score accepted, whether you'll do a background check, the maximum household number, income requirements, and more.

Be sure to know ahead of time what's acceptable to you and what's not when you screen prospective tenants.

Set a Minimum Credit Score

A credit score is often the first and primary criteria in deciding whether to accept an applicant as a tenant.

A high credit score usually indicates an ability to pay financial obligations on time. While a lower credit score doesn't always indicate financial irresponsibility, you should always look for tenants with a credit score of at least 700.

Always run a credit check and try not to waiver on what you consider an acceptable score.

If you do want to make an exception, remember that the number is not the whole story.

Be sure to look at the credit report as a whole, and address issues like unemployment or health problems that may have impacted an applicant's rating.

To Do or Not To Do a Background Check

Currently, you're allowed to do a background check and use the information discovered to make a decision about a lease agreement.

For example, if you're uncomfortable renting to someone with a felony conviction, you can refuse based on that information.

If you choose to use background checks, be aware that the law may change at any time. Keep up-to-date on changes to privacy laws to avoid discriminatory rental practices. If you are unsure about the legality, it's a good idea to seek legal advice before making a decision.

Check on Household Size

While it's illegal to discriminate based on marital or familial status, you can set up occupancy restrictions.

For example, you may limit the number of people living in a three-bedroom home to a maximum of seven tenants.

Placing limitations on the number of people living in a unit is simply a way to meet fire codes and not the same as discriminating against families with children.

Set Firm Income Requirements

A credit score is one of the easiest things to check about a tenant, but income may be even more important.

How much money an applicant earns will directly affect their ability to make rental payments on time. Typically, you want someone who earns at least three times the rental amount.

You might even be more flexible on other criteria if they earn four or more times the rent.

The more money they earn, the less stress there should be on them to get you the rent payment by the due date.

Ask for References

Be sure to ask for references on any rental application.

If a prospect doesn't have any previous tenancy to list, that can be a warning sign.

If they do, make sure to call the references and follow up. One phone call might save you thousands in lost rent and property damage.

Advertise Your Requirements to Avoid Issues

Sob stories and sympathy might make you more likely to bend some of your rules. Avoid this whenever possible by letting applicants know your guidelines ahead of time.

If you tell prospective tenants that they need a 700 credit score to be approved, they'll be less likely to pay the rental application fee if they don't have confidence in their credit score.

The more information you give applicants, the less likely they are to apply if they don't make the grade.


Related

The Landlord Tenant Board: What it is and When it is Needed

Many times, there are issues between a landlord and a tenant that need to be resolved but are failed to do so, because both parties have gone too far with their actions, and have retaliated in the... More


How to Review a Rental Application

When it comes to reviewing a rental application, all of it may seem daunting; you will find it overwhelming because there is so much information that you yourself have to go through before the tenant... More


How to Create a Residential Lease Agreement

Where there is a landlord, there will also be a tenant, and it is no surprise that these two parties can only work together once there is some sort of agreement, contract or a binding deal in place.... More


The Best Sites for Rental and Lease Agreement Templates

Many landlords find it difficult to write and draft a lease agreement. Since every State has its own general template, it can also be difficult to make sure your lease agreement meets all the criteria... More


5 Landlord Forms that Every Landlord Should Have

When it comes to being a landlord, one should know that it is not for the unprepared individual. This should be clear that being a landlord does not simply mean that you will be taking the rent and... More


Landlord Obligations: The Responsibilities of a Landlord

Becoming a landlord is a major deal and no one can simply get up and think, “well, yes I think I should be a landlord and rent out my flat.” If you are thinking that you would like to be a landlord,... More


The Best Landlord Associations for Landlords to Join

If you’re a landlord and want to manage your business in a better way, you should endeavor to get in touch with those industry experts who have the experience and the skills to help you do it. This is... More


The Best Landlord Forums

Landlords and aspiring landlords, do not become as such, without guidance and advice. There is a lot that goes into being a landlord nowadays; in fact, there is so much to learn that it often confuses... More


The Biggest Landlord Problems and How to Fix Them

Renting out an apartment or a house can become a constant revenue source for landlords, but at the same time, it gives rise to several problems. It is a fact that high standards, a strict lease... More


Landlord Tenant Disputes

If you are currently thinking of becoming a landlord only because it helps you have a constant stream of income, you should think twice. It’s not that you should not consider offering your property... More