Rental Application Procedure
The way we take rental applications has changed over time. When we first started, we would take lots of pictures, a video tour and then upload all that material to a website that we could advertise on for free that would also syndicate to other sites like Zillow and Trulia. We would then put hand-painted red signs in the yard of the property listing all the information about the house and included our phone number.
And boy, did they call.
I used to say filling rentals was my least favorite part of our business because we would get tons of phone calls from people asking the same three questions: how many beds, how many baths, and how much per month?
The reason this was frustrating was because that information was plastered on every single piece of advertising we put out, including the hand-painted red signs located directly in front of the house. And the process of picking up the phone, answering those questions and getting folks to view the homes took up almost all of our time.
We would also invite anyone and everyone in to view the property with little to no screening because we required that step in order for them to put in an application.
To begin with we tried holding open houses for the rentals. This was hit or miss and didn’t take care of all the people who were calling. So instead, we decided to put a key under the mat at the properties and let people go in and check out the houses by themselves. This worked really well. We never had any damage done to a house, and we never had anything stolen.
The problem remained, though, that we had to take the 10 million calls a day in order to get a house filled.
As Facebook gained traction, we started advertising the rentals there. That became very frustrating, as well. You see, not only were we getting a ton of calls, but now we were getting instant messages saying “I’m interested” or “Is this still available?” minutes after we posted. And we literally couldn’t keep up with them. This made people mad, and they left us bad Facebook reviews.
On top of that, we would get random people posting negative opinions about things like our rent prices or something about the house on our advertisement. That was not cool.
So, to get around the hundreds of phone calls, the millions of instant messages and random people’s negative opinions, we started using a service called rently.com.
Rently is a cool service. It has its own advertising platform which syndicates to most of the other big rental sites. But what makes rently so cool is that they have taken the technology of a supra box, which is what realtors use to view homes for sale, and modified that to create a self-showing system for renters to view homes on their own schedule and without landlords being involved.
In order to view a home, a prospective tenant must download the app, enter their driver’s license and a credit card. This is to verify that they are a real person. Then, Rently asks them questions to determine what houses are best suited for them. And we tell Rently what answers we expect to see on things like job history, income level and some other minimum criteria.
These are called prescreening questions. And if the applicant doesn’t meet the criteria, our house doesn’t show up in their search. This means the people who get to see our houses are already semi-qualified.
Next, after the tenant has viewed the home. They are given the option to apply with our digital application and pay a $30 application fee.
This is huge. You see, we want people to actually view the home before they apply to make sure they really like it. If they are just settling for what they can find on the internet, chances are they won’t stay very long. And we want tenants who pay and stay. Viewing the home helps ensure those things.
Rently prescreens and then gets the people into the house without our phone blowing up. Next, they send them the application, which gets vetted with a background, employment and credit check before being sent to us. This whole scenario delivers us high-quality applicants that we can then set up the in-home interview with and make a final decision.
Now Rently didn’t ask me to do a review, and I’m not getting anything out of this. Rently has just been a good tool for us that I though you should know about. Because, for us, having the policy of using Rently to show and take our applications has cut our work by more than half and has made filling our rentals much more hassle free.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.