If you are a landlord, you will routinely come across applicants who are first time renters as they have never lived in a rented property before. It can be tough for boys and girls leaving their homes and looking for a place to live. Students going to study in colleges and universities and not finding a room to live on the campus knock on the doors of landlords in college towns. As a landlord, dealing with applicants having no rental history can be a nightmare for you. Here are some tips to screen these applicants.
Insist on a resume
As first-time renters do not have a rental history behind them, the best they can offer is a resume. By reading the resume of an individual, you get to know what kind of a person he is and what his areas of excellence are. A resume tells you whether he is active on social service front and what his hobbies are. Resume always contains information that can help you in deciding whether the applicant is a good fit for your property or not.
Request him for additional documents
Sometimes, reading a resume does not enlighten you about the qualities of the applicant. In this case, you can ask the applicant to furnish additional documents. These include his bank statement, letters of recommendation, alternative forms of credit, and so on. You can go through these documents to learn many new things about the applicant. For example, his transactions with the bank tell you a lot about his savings. Letters of recommendation obviously throw light on his character. Alternate forms of credit such as bills of cell phone company tell you how much he spends on communication and whether he has been paying these bills on time or not.
Take an interview
If you cannot make up your mind regarding the tenancy of an applicant based upon his documents, it is a good idea to conduct a one to one interview with him. Make sure you only ask general questions that cannot be termed discriminatory by the applicant. For example, you cannot ask questions about age, gender, or marital status. This interview is as important form the point of view of information as it is for the body language and the confidence of the applicant while facing your questions. The way he talks and behaves gives you many clues about his personality and attitude. Ask probing questions based upon the information provided by the applicant to find out if he is indeed speaking truth.
Screen all applicants and co-signors
If 2-3 individuals want to rent a unit in your property, do not be satisfied by the screening of only one of them who happens to be the main applicant. After all, all of them will be living inside your rental property and not just the individual who presents his resume in his application. Do not fall prey to the offer of advance in cash as you need to ensure safety of your property first before accepting money. Check the criminal background of all the applicants to be sure of their activities.
In addition to checking on the documents and conducting an interview, you can also take many other steps when dealing with first time renters. You are within your right to ask for a heavy security deposit from these applicants who do not have a rental history to prove their stability and trustworthiness. To be on the safe side, you can offer shorter terms of lease. You can also include clauses that clearly mention your expectations and penalties that accrue on them for the violation of these terms.
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