First Lets – The essential guide to rental applications
I outlined why you need to get the best tenants and the potential cost of getting the wrong ones (which could run into thousands) in my last post. In that article, you’ll have read about the six tips for securing the best tenants that keep a tenant-finding strategy on track. Here, I’ll look at the rental application in more detail: the job it does and what questions it should ask.
Why do you need a rental application from prospective tenants?
The rental application is the first major step in screening potential tenants. It’s the written record that helps determine what the applicant is like. It’s akin to a job application, or CV. The information the applicant provides on their rental application includes:
- Rental history
- Past evictions
- Criminal history
The rental application is often used as the applicant’s authorisation for the investment property manager to run credit checks and contact references and employers.
One caveat here is that the questions asked, and the way they are asked, must be written within the law. For example, you can’t be discriminatory, even on the application form.
There is a side benefit of rental applications that many buy-to-let property investors don’t fully appreciate: they’re a great way of getting applicants to rule themselves out. When faced with a question they’d rather not answer, most applicants would rather reject a property than be rejected. These are tenants you wouldn’t want, so the rental application form helps to save time, too.
Who is the rental application for?
A common mistake made by first-time buy-to-let investors is only to get the rental application filled in by the primary tenant – often this is considered to be the breadwinner. But consider a couple where one partner has been convicted of fraud, or embezzlement or theft. Perhaps the couple has been married only a short while, and the husband has previously been evicted from rented accommodation. It’s easy to see that such a couple might be desperate to hide their real credentials.
Rental applications should be completed by all those over eighteen years of age who will either be living in the property or contribute to the rent. It includes parents who have said they’ll be paying part of the rent for their child’s accommodation (a common occurrence when investing in student flats).
What questions should you ask?
The rental application covers four main areas:
- Personal information, which includes contact details, date of birth, and national insurance number.
- Residential history, which includes the details of current and previous addresses, landlords, and reasons for moving.
- Employment history, including current employer, their contact details, current job title, time in the job, and salary.
- Other questions, including background information about the applicant’s financial history and criminal record.
The tenant application form should also ask for permission to contact employers and previous landlords, as well as authorising a credit check (all as part of the tenant vetting process).
Other questions that the rental application might cover include:
- Have you ever intentionally refused to pay rent?
- Do you own a pet?
- Do you smoke?
- Have you declared bankruptcy in the last seven years?
How many applicants are needed until you find the best tenant?
One of the questions that our clients ask us is, how many rental applicants do we accept on a property before we find the best tenant? There’s a simple answer to this: as many as it takes. While it takes time and effort to field phone calls, get prospective tenants to fill in rental applications, meet them, and conduct viewings, it’s a lost less hassle than getting a tenant from hell and having to go through the tenant eviction process.
Fortunately, we’ve got the tenant-finding process honed to a fine art. Our process is slick; we’re able to provide a rental guarantee to the property investors that use our investment property management services to more than 90% of our properties under management. Simply put, if we can’t let your property within six weeks, we’ll pay the rent until we do. Guarantees like this are part of what makes Ezytrac your route to effortless investment property management.
Should you keep rental applications on record?
We’ll keep all paperwork on record, and this, of course, includes the rental applications of your tenants. We also keep the records of failed applicants. While some of these will be tenants who simply weren’t suitable for your property (or perhaps any other), they also include some gems. After all, your property can only be tenanted by one group of tenants at a time.
Keeping the records of potentially great tenants is just one of the reasons we can find great tenants within just two weeks for 95% of our buy-to-let investor clients.
Our investment property management services help ensure that you get the best tenants and that they and your property are monitored throughout the tenancy. It’s the hassle-free way to make sure your property investment is performing.
Contact one of the Ezytrac team today on +44 1522 503 717, and discover why we’re one of the largest and fastest-growing investment property management companies in the UK today.
In my next post, I’ll look at how to avoid costly blunders with the right to rent and discrimination laws.
Yours in effortless property management,