One of the most important documents a landlord has at their disposal is the rental application. This form serves as the audition piece or try-out for everyone who wants the chance to live on your property. This is the opening for them to show if they have what it takes – or at least show they have nothing that would knock them out of the running right off the bat.
Get to the Basics
The best rental application should be easy to complete, even if it may take some time. There are not many questions that can come out of left-field, so an applicant should be relatively comfortable covering the essential stepping stones to show that at the very least, they’re not the opposite of what you want.
Trust fund babies are few and far between, and that means most of your applicants will need some kind of employment in order to pay the rent. This could be a traditional nine-to-five, freelancing, or any other form of work. There just needs to be a reliable paycheck involved somewhere in the mix. This isn’t to say that the applicant may not have help paying rent every now and again. Some applicants may very well have parents or grandparents who have agreed to do so as the younger generation finds its footing, but it is not guaranteed. If they do have this kind of set up planned, Instead, instruct applicants to use the Additional Income section of the rental application. This can be used to deal with unknown variables like family members helping with rent and other fees. This is a prime place for you to deal with those who have a non-traditional set up while looking for their new home.
Legally speaking, ghosts exist. You should always consult a lawyer for such advice, but legally speaking, they do. The law doesn’t state if ghosts literally exist, but according to the New York Supreme Court, people have the right to know you’ve had some spooks and scares. Often referred to as the Ghostbusters Ruling, Stambovsky v. Ackley debated a haunted house that Helen Ackley had sold to Jeffrey Stambovsky. Ackley had told newspapers and even Reader’s Digest about her poltergeist ridden abode. When out of towner Stambovsky saw the house, no one saw fit to let him know. Needless to say, he was not happy. Neither was the court and because she told national and local publications, the majority of justices said: “as a matter of law, the house is haunted.”
When dealing with your stigmatized property, ask a local lawyer what the laws are in your area, and double-check your local laws on how much you are required to disclose. It may be that ghosts aren’t a big deal, and you don’t have a disclosure law. Otherwise, it’s good practice to be honest when asked.
People move around for many different reasons. Perhaps their job moved them, they’re relocating to aid an ailing elderly parent, they want a better school district for their children, or even a broken-up romantic relationship could have them moving out. Understanding why they moved out matters.
Did they treat their last home with respect? Does their previous landlord think highly of them? Would this landlord rent to them again? Or, more worryingly, would this landlord keep them away? The Previous Address section of a rental application should give you access to a wealth of knowledge. Aside from their ‘reason for moving,’ they should be able to list their previous landlords’ contact information. From there you can ask them what you need to know.
Additional Comments and Questions
Every landlord has the personalized questions they like to ask. This can range from details about smoking to questions that work with the best guidance for renters with pets. This space allows a landlord to ask whatever they really need to know that wasn’t already covered. It also provides the potential tenant to state extra details – yup, even details such as parents co-signing or helping with the rent.
An excellent rental application is the first step between you and your vacancy filled with the tenant of your dreams.
What do you value most on your online rental applications?
Let us know in the comments!