More than 116 million people rent their homes in the United States, more than at any other point in the past 50 years.
That’s great if you’re a landlord or property manager as it means you’re likely to get plenty of good applicants whenever there’s a vacancy in one of your properties.
But lots of applicants can translate into lots of time spent reviewing applications, showing the space, and conducting background checks. Good business owners are always looking for ways to make things more efficient to save time and money. The tenant screening process is one place where technology can help you do that while still offering opportunities to provide a human touch.
Let’s take a look at how you can use it to streamline the process.
Start With Good Communication
Clear and transparent communication from the beginning helps build a good relationship with your new tenant before you even know who it is. It makes it more likely you’ll get tenants you like that will stay for a long time.
But trying to talk with everyone to set expectations and keep them updated on where things stand quickly starts to become a huge time suck. Automating certain pieces of communication can help you save time and streamline the process.
Automation ensures every application gets the same information and that they get all the different pieces you need to provide them. You don’t forget to send anything, and you stay consistent to comply with various housing laws. With your various emails already written, you don’t have to do things from scratch each time.
So what should you automate in your messaging? Any piece that can be the same across applicants or doesn’t require any special information is fair game here. Good examples would include:
- Status updates like application received or application accepted
- Welcome packet for new tenant onboarding
- Rejection notes for those you don’t choose
Application status emails should include details for the next step like when they can expect to hear from you with an acceptance or rejection. You can send the links they need to get tenant web access for them to sign your lease and submit their deposit in your portal.
Build Your Process
When you have a set screening process, it becomes easier to keep up with all the details because you don’t have to stop to think about what to do next. That keeps things moving and makes sure each step gets done. A good basic screening process includes:
- Set and know your criteria
- Have an application
- Run background checks
- Interview candidates
- Select and notify the tenant
- Notify those not selected
There are a few tricky spots here where you need to have to take care. Some locales have set housing rules that limit what you can ask for on the application, while others limit what you can consider when selecting a tenant. You also need to know what you can and can’t ask during the interview process under the Fair Housing Act.
Automation can help you navigate those waters if you have software that takes all of those rules into consideration. Easy to build applications, calendar scheduling for viewings and interviews, and default responses to inquiries take care of some of the repetitive parts of this process.
Putting your application online speeds up the time it takes to get the information into your management software and is filtered by your criteria. Your system can automatically do background checks and rate the reports for those that pass the first filter. Once it’s all set up, it can even send out update and rejection emails at the appropriate stages.
Choose Reliable Software
If you’re convinced automation can make your life easier, what do you do next? You want to choose the right software for your needs so it does make things easier and not more complicated.
Start by deciding just how comprehensive you want the package to be. If you only manage a few properties, something that collects applications and does screening might be all you need. Most property managers deal with a large number of units, so software that can run the entire process from listing to onboarding might be a better fit.
For most, a critical part of streamlining the process is a good organization. This means having a clear dashboard that offers up everything you need to know in one place. It should be easy to see when something needs your attention and keep the entire team on the same page with multi-user access to the data.
Auto-screening options allow you to do many of the automation mentioned here, but there’s more you can accomplish with them. For example, you might put the background check as the last step of the application so you get everything in one report rather than having to go back to do the checks. It’s especially a great tool for use with group applications.
Beyond that, look for an application portal that is transparent and makes a good impression. You also need to ensure the background checks are being pulled from trusted sources, and the pre-written text for items like adverse action letters covers what’s needed for your location.
Get the Most From Your Tenant Screening
Tenant screening plays a vital role in the rental business, but even with only a few properties, it can take up a lot of time. Streamlining the process ensures you don’t miss things or run afoul of fair housing laws. Automate communications and appointment scheduling to make it easier for you and potential tenants to get through all the steps efficiently.
Need help with applications and screening? Contact Rent Safe to discuss our tenant screening services for property managers and landlords.