Applications and those freakin' fees!
Why does EVERY manager, just about, require an application for each adult? And what's up with those fees? Why can't they just tell me what their rental criteria is up front so I don't have to go through several of these darn things?!
So if you don't already know, the application will typically look at your credit history and score, criminal history (or lack thereof), rental history, and eviction history (if any). The goal of course is to determine if you are a good fit for the house. It's not fool-proof, but it's a better way than spitting in your hand, and giving a handshake along with your word. Think of this, too: the owner of your property had to put up some serious cash or jump through hoops to get a loan to buy this house. They just want to make sure, to the best of their ability, the person living there is something they can reasonably trust to take care of the place. Yes, they have duties to a tenant, too, but that's a different topic for a different day.
So each adult has to go through this process. The reason: the owner has the right to know all the persons living in their residence. Another reason: if your home is on a septic tank, we need to make sure the septic capacity supports the number of occupants in the house. Plus, if you fail to disclose all occupants, you could be considered fraudulent, which is something that could be prosecuted by law, and carry heavy fines! It's best just to be honest.
Those fees usually are charged because the manager is being charged to run your information; not because they're getting rich the more applications they run. Seriously. That said, we're willing to accept a complete background/credit check from another management company, so long as it's sent to us directly from them, with your permission. If we can save you the money, we will. Sometimes a house will rent while you're in the process of applying; especially in the summer. So, if we're willing to do it, reasonably there may be other companies out there willing to do it, too. Just have to have the "chain of custody" in tact.
The criteria for an application can and does vary WIDELY. Some companies will require that your monthly income to equal or exceed three times the monthly rent amount for the property you've selected. Others will have a minimum credit requirement. In addition, owners may be able to set their own requirements, too. I once had an owner who would accept nothing lower than a 750 score. It was to her detriment, but she was adamant for it. That's her legal direction, so I had to follow it. It's always good to ask if there are any specific requirements for the specific house you want to rent.
In most cases, a manager will weigh every application on a case by case basis. And when I say that, I mean they're not just looking at you on paper, but they're comparing you against the house for which you have applied. Let's say you want a home that's $1,000/month in rent. I may think you're a better candidate for any of our rentals that are $850/month or less, based on your reported income. So I may decline you based on income for that home, but still approve you for another residence, if I have one in inventory that meets your needs.
Some of the biggest killers for your application are: 1.) Credit. 2.) Prior evictions or landlord judgments. 3.) Criminal activity (we're talking murder, drug possession/distribution - if recent; not from 1987 with no more convictions since that time), 4.) Poor landlord references, 5.) Income issues. We're looking at all those pieces, and trying to see if your puzzle will work for our owners' best interests. Talk to us before you spend money and apply for any residence. Make sure if you have issues, you're honest. I've approved applications with poor credit; just sometimes requires a higher deposit. I've approved applications with evictions: depends on the circumstances and what has been done since to ensure something like that wouldn't happen again. Whatever the case, we'd rather know up front and work with you, than to get off on the wrong foot and feel like we've been lied to.
So, that's why there's a process and fees and a decision. It's still easier to rent than to buy, but definitely expect a little bit of an anxious waiting period.