Landlord/Tenant Q&A: LURLINE R. JOHNSON (R)
LURLINE R. JOHNSON (R), ABR, CRB, CRS, GRI, RMP
Property Profi les, Inc.
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers
Q. A number of potential tenants showed up at my rental property when I held a showing. I started taking names on Monday, set the showing for Friday, and told everyone I would be there at 5 p.m. Almost 10 groups of people came and some of them were very upset that there were other people there. Some demanded to know how I was going to make a decision with this many people wanting the house. I thought it was good to have competition at the showing but now I think I might have lost a couple of good applicants. What did I do wrong?
A. Having a lot of potential tenants wanting to rent your property isn’t the problem in fact, most would look at that as a blessing. The issue here is communicating with the potential renters and scheduling your showing time.
It all starts when you answer that phone call or email inquiring about the rental. You should try to pre-qualify the renter as much as possible to know that your unit is indeed a good fit for them. You can ask when they are planning to move maybe they are looking for immediate occupancy and your unit won’t be ready until next month. You can ask how many people will be renting of course, you should not ask anything that could be construed as discriminatory, such as how many children there are or the ages of the occupants. You can inquire whether there are smokers in the group (especially if you don’t allow smoking in your unit or are in one of the new non-smoking buildings). You can ask how long they intend to rent for they may be looking for only a few months and you want at least one year. Inquire about animals they may have even if you are advertising “no pets,” they might not have read the ad thoroughly or they may have a service animal.
By prequalifying the tenant, you will save time and effort for everyone. Be sure that you are consistent and ask the same questions of all who inquire or apply. Have a check-list in front of you so you don’t miss anything. Be prepared to answer questions about your property so the potential tenant will have a clear understanding of what it offers.
In setting up showings of your unit you may want to stagger the times so everyone doesn’t show up at once. I normally try to accommodate one to two groups every 15 minutes so I can really talk with them, show them the unit and explain our rental application process. If you decide to do large group showings, you should communicate that to interested parties when they call, so they aren’t surprised to find out that they are not getting an individual showing.
The question about who will get the unit when there are multiple applicants has a simple answer. I let the applicants know that I process complete applications as they are received. An application is complete when all the information is filled in (not missing any addresses, phone numbers or reference information), when supporting documentation is provided to verify income and/or assets, and when the application fee has been paid. Once all those conditions have been satisfied, then the application can be processed. Once processed, then the best qualified applicant who can take the property at the earliest time when it becomes available would be offered the unit.