Finding Quality Tenants; Learning to Pre-screen Our Applicants, Part 2

for rent (9_12)By the time Kid Saggy Pants left, we’d learned our lesson: it was time to pre-screen our applicants.  Up to this point, we’d simply agreed to meet everyone who showed interest in our Craigslist ad … And our apartment, being only 850 sq ft and with a rent of $565 per month, was attracting the interest, thus far, of a group of people that we, in turn, had no interest in.

A quick google search of “how to find quality tenants” confirmed that we were skipping the essential — and simple — step of pre-screening interested parties.  After reading a few articles, we sat down and made these changes:

  • We raised the damage deposit from $250 to $400: initially, we were going for affordability; we decided, however, that a stronger “skin in the game” factor would sweep some “fluff” away.
  • We asked for an application fee of $10: not much, but it covered our costs and required a small investment on the part of the prospective tenant.
  • We asked emailed inquiries to provide the following info:
    Number of People & Relationship to You:
    Intended Rental Term:
    Your Occupation(s):
  • And finally, once we had a prospect on the phone, we asked 1) why they were moving; 2) what was they’re credit like; and 3) could they proved a positive rental history?

Along the way, with our quick phone pre-screening, we were able to wish good luck to a few people who didn’t match our desired tenant profiles. Simple changes, really — common sense stuff — and suddenly, within days, we landed three wonderful prospects.

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Detective Landlord: Screening Tenant Applicants

Social media, of course: A recent prospective tenant had an open Facebook page – listed at the top of her favorite things to read: Hightimes magazine; and her favorite movie: Blow

Not necessarily bad, right?  Well … One look in the photo gallery … A caption below the first picture — of her holding up a giant margarita — read, “Gettin it krunk b4 gettin my club on.”

Stamp it: DENIED.

A thorough application: Another prospect left part of our application blank, so I called and explained that in order to review her application, I’d need the answers to a few questions she “forgot” to fill in: Do you smoke? Yes.  Have you ever been evicted from a property? No.  Have you declared bankruptcy in the last ten years? Yes.

A little fishy, right?  So I called the listed current landlord for a reference.  Somewhat suspicious at this point, I started with, “Are you listed as the property owner in the courthouse tax records?”

“Uh, no, I, uh, he owns a lot.  I, uh, manage a few.”

“I see.  Could you give me his contact info?”

“Yeah, sure, I’ll call you right back with it.”

I never heard back.  Stamp it: DENIED.

Keep em coming …

Craigslist: A Pig in a Poke

Good old Geroge Kirby, upstanding citizen from Athens, Greece, sent the following email in response to my Cragslist advertisement:

… i am currently im in Athens, GREECE,  I am 48yrs old… and i am working with Hellenic Telecommunication Organization (OTE) — telecommunications Company In Athens, GREECE as secretary, I just won a contract with Cognizant Technology Solutions in states, I would spending 2yrs working with them, so i would be renting the place for 1yr for me to stay.  I’m making a preparation of coming down on the 16th of May… and i would coming to stay with my wife who is 2 month pregnant,  I do not smoke and have no pets.

Regarding the payment I want to make a deposit of one month rent plus the security deposit and also pay for the credit check, to secure the place before we arrtive in the US. My Financial assistant who is based in states would be handling the rent deposit payment on my behalf, I will tell him to send you one month rent as deposit payment of the rent as soon as you give me the go ahead to make out the payment to you. i would love to see the pictures of the unit so i can have more idea of what it really looks like…

This is my first time of renting a place to stay, Let me know if you want me to proceed with the deposit.You can give me a call, but the best way to get the hold of me is through email cause i might be in a meeting.My cell phone number is :+44 -702-407-8748 Land Phone: +44-773-370-4360 NB:Please Re-Confirm the price range along with the pictures of the house so we dont misunderstood each other!

Thank you and have a great day,

Mr Kirby.

What a deal, right?  How could I pass this up?  The ideal tenant, locked and loaded, a fish in a barrel … Or, as my grandpa used to say, a pig in a poke

Via email, I asked George if he was certain, coming from the metropolis of Athens, that he indeed wanted to live in the small village of Dayton – my apartment is not even within 100 miles of a Dayton – and he responded with a resounding yes and would I please hurry with the needed information so that he could get me the required funds ASAP.

I replied:

M Kirby,

While Dayton is indeed a small village, it has just occurred to me that there is something here you may find enjoyable: we have a thriving Greek club, the Phi Beta Kappa Alpha Sigma Sigma Freud.  Would it please you to have the club president’s contact information?  Everyone here in town finds Christo Texas-Stadium a most enjoyable fellow.  Please advise, as it’s important to me that you find your stay in Dayton pleasant.

M Rhodman

For some reason, I never heard back … Do people fall for these scams?