Let’s pick up the pre – pre screening with the potential tenants who have emailed you based on the fact that they actually followed your instructions and have driven to the area and liked what they saw.
You can check this by emailing back and simply asking what amenities did you like best in the area that you feel you or your family will enjoy the most?
If they email with something that resembles a reasonable answer, then you can go to the next stage.
The phone call
The next stage of screening requires only a few quick questions on the phone.
You: “Have you driven by the property?”
Prospect: “Yes, I like the area.”
You: “Are you calling for yourself or someone else?”
Prospect: “Myself and my girlfriend.” You: “How long have you lived where you are now?
Prospect: “Two years”
You: “How long have you worked at your current employer?”
Prospect: “Just over two years, and my girlfriend is over three years.”
You: Are you OK if I do a credit and criminal check?
Prospect: Umm…err…hmm…ya, I guess.”
You: “There will be a $50 application fee so I can pay for these standard checks.”
Prospect: “Aaahhhh….Click! (dial tone)”
You may be speaking to that dial tone soon after you ask a few of these questions, and that’s OK. These questions purposely require specific answers to affectively screen out people right away and thus save you time and money. The prospects that stay on the line and answer these questions to your satisfaction clearly are candidates you desire to potentially have as tenants.
One of the biggest mistakes landlords make is to accept anyone with a pulse that has first and last month’s (or security deposit, or 1/2 month’s) rent. This is a bad idea and ultimately costs undue stress on the landlord and their family as well as time and money.
Showing the unit
Now comes the fun part. Those prospects who have successfully made it this far through your initial screening process want to see the inside of the unit.
A strategy that works to gain the most interest from potential prospects is to arrange for all prospects to show up at the same time, not telling the other prospects there will be anyone else there. To ensure they do show up at the same time, tell them you only have a window of 20 minutes. “Please come at 1 p.m. on Saturday. If you are not there by 1:20p.m., I will leave.”
People will show up to a gathering. Ask everyone to be patient and take people in on a first-come, first-served basis, only letting one person, couple or family through at a time. Plan the tour ahead of time so you lead them through the unit strategically and point out all the nice features of the apartment, even if it’s only the view or the flooring or whatever.
Make sure to give each person or family an application and get their $50. Please do use it to pay for the MANDITORY credit check, tenancy check and even a criminal check… you’ll be glad you did. You can tell the prospective tenant that the $50 fee will be included in the last month’s rent, 1/2 rent or security deposit (depending on what province you are in), if they qualify for tenancy.
So at the end of the day, what have you created here? Competition! Do you think you will have anyone wanting to get you to lower the rental price or ask for any favours or additions when there are others looking at the same unit? You have created a desire in these prospects for your unit. Who is in control? YOU!!!! You are in control. And that’s the way it needs to be… throughout the tenancy.
The application, which further aids as a screening process, becomes your critical mass when choosing someone who will be great tenant or a nightmare. Mention to the prospective tenant that imperfection on the application is tolerated; dishonesty is not tolerated and will lead to immediate disqualification and loss of application fee.
Make sure to ask for a driver’s licence or picture ID that reflects the person’s current address. This is just another way of making sure all information on the application is true, including the person’s identity.
References are vital for the prospective tenant to include on the application including current and previous employment; a character witness such as a professional or respectable citizen; current and previous landlords.
When speaking to the current employer, you are looking for three things; a) to substantiate that the current employment is actually credible and current; b) length of time they have worked there for and; c) if your prospect is in good standing as to remain with the organization for some time.
For other references, ask that person a few questions about their experience with your prospect, how long they’ve known each other, how they met and what their current relationship is.
Calling Landlords. Calling the current landlord may produce a glowing report. Perhaps the current landlord can’t wait to get rid of your prospect and therefore will tell you what a great tenant they have been so they can get rid of them and you can take them. However, calling the previous landlord may get you a much more realistic view on this person’s character and whether you’d like this person living in your unit or not.
When calling any landlord reference, do not introduce yourself as Mr. Prospect’s new potential landlord to the person who picks up the phone, which exposes your identity. Instead, without introducing yourself, ask; “yes, do you have any apartments for rent?” if the answer to your question is; “uh…what?” You will know if you’ve been set up.
By utilizing a few strategies, you can eliminate many potential problems that can be time- and money-wasters.
This was an excerpt from 20 OCTOBER 2011 canadianrealestatemagazine.ca
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