LAURENE H. YOUNG, (B), MPM, RMP, REALTOR
Young Hawaii Homes, Inc.
2011 President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers
Q. I am trying to compose my own rental application. What should I include?
A. Applications should have two parts: the criteria and the actual application. I will cover the criteria first and the application in a separate article. Having a written criteria and screening procedure gives prospective applicants a clear idea of what you require and prevents an unqualified tenant from applying. To avoid claims of discrimination, make sure you are consistent in enforcing any of your criteria. Here are some things that should be stated or considered on your criteria: (1) State that a separate application must be completed for each adult and must be filled in completely. Do not accept an application that is incomplete.
State that you will require two pieces of identification, at least one of which has the applicant’s photo.
Check these before you run an applicant’s credit report or verify any information provided. (2) State that any rental history must be verifiable. You must be able to contact the previous two landlords. (3) State what type of income you require. A common standard is to require that the applicants collectively earn at least three times the rent. You should be able to verify the income via pay stubs or tax records. If the applicants are self-employed, ask for their tax returns from the past two years, a copy of their business license and/or bank records. (4) State that you will deny the application for certain types of crime. Any conviction for any type of crime that would be considered a serious threat to real property or to other residents’ peaceful enjoyment of the property should be grounds for denial. You can check the State website at www.hoohiki1.courts. state.hi.us or the sex offender registry at www.sexoffenders.ehawaii.gov. Be aware that the records are listed by name and, since people may have the same name, may not actually be the applicant’s records. (5) If possible, do a credit check. Some landlords are unable to do this, but you can ask the applicant to bring in a copy of their credit report. Make sure it is recent (within the past few weeks) and don’t use an applicant-provided report as the only tool to make your decision. Look for a history of late payments, collections or write-offs, or a large amount of credit debt. Also, check to see that the “amount due” on any credit debt is manageable given the rent expected relative to the income earned by the applicant. (6) State that you may deny the application if previous landlords report significant levels of noncompliance for activities including, but not limited to: repeated disturbances of the neighbor’s peace; reports of gambling, prostitution, drug dealing or manufacturing, or other illegal activity; damage to property beyond normal wear and tear; reports of violence or threats to landlords or neighbors; allowing persons not on the lease to reside on premises without landlord’s consent; if a previous landlord would be disinclined to rent to applicant again for any reason pertaining to the behavior of applicant or others allowed on the property. (7) State your pet policy. If you do not allow pets without prior written consent, state so on your criteria. If you allow pets, let applicant know if you require a pet deposit (no more than one month’s rent). Remember that service animals are not considered pets and you may not collect a pet deposit nor ask the tenant to sign a pet addendum. (8) State your smoking policy. If you do not allow smoking, state so on your criteria. If you do allow smoking, let applicant know where (common area, outside, walkways, a certain distance from windows, etc).