Way to go! You’ve placed your ad, held the inspections, received and screened the applications and finally chosen some great tenants. So what’s next? There are some important things to accomplish before you can hand over the keys. Setting the stage now, before your new tenants move into your property, is incredibly important to get right.
I still remember the pain.
I would wake up in the middle of the night, wondering if the next rent payment was going to come in. Will the kitchen or the new carpet be ruined? It almost killed me.
My worst tenants ever, and they were only in the house for two months. Those two months felt like two years! EVERY DAY I worried what the next day might bring. After I got court orders to kick them out, they graffitied the whole house from top to bottom. I will never go through that again. Never!
Rejection stinks. It is no fun to be rejected, and it’s not much better to give a rejection. Unfortunately, if you have more than one application for your rental property (and hopefully there are several), someone will have to miss out.
We tend to focus on selecting the right tenants, so we forget the effort that a tenant puts into making a good application. As the owner, it is up to you to get the best tenants you can, even if you have to break someone’s heart.
Ignoring a Rejected Tenant Application can Lead to Trouble
Rather than facing those you don’t want living in your property, some agents choose to ignore the tenants which they cannot accept. That is not good enough. Especially when you consider that coming out for an inspection and completing a tenant application requires a good deal of effort. Some prospective tenants take it as a personal insult when their application is not accepted.
Personally informing the tenants that you are forced to turn them down shows a lot of class and its actually very simple if you know how. The trick is to get it done quickly with little fuss. Let me show you how…
Change the Heading in your Ad to UNDER APPLICATION
The most important reason for this step is to save you from getting calls for a house that is essentially off the market. Yes, removing your ad does the same thing, but UNDER APPLICATION keeps the ad active in case your tenant falls through at the last minute.
However, it does not save you from those disturbing calls from applicants who have not seen the updated ad. The best way to avoid that is to beat them to it!
Get in First and Make the Call
Contacting applicants before they contact you is a magical tactic. The magic is that they are not prepared for the encounter, but you are. This gives you the opportunity to be direct and to the point (but not short or rude, obviously). Then you can get off the phone before they have time to think it through enough to ask questions.
Here’s a basic script I’ve used to get in and get out quick. Let’s pretend the tenants name is Hannah.
“Michael: Hi Hannah, its Michael, how are you?
Hannah: Hey Michael, great how are you?
Michael: Not to bad thank you, I’ve been really busy with all the applications.
I just wanted to let you know that unfortunately you have not been accepted for the property.
We had quite a few applications and they were all really good. However, do you mind if I call you back if the application falls through?
Hannah: Yes please thank you.
Michael: Thanks for your understanding Hannah. Good luck. Bye.”
Sometimes the unsuccessful applicant will be on their toes enough to question why you did not accept them before you say “Thanks for your understanding”. Have a good answer ready: “To be honest there was no particular reason, it was very close even after we went through all the applications”.
My friend Rhonda has a slick solution when she has someone asking why their tenant application was not accepted. She says that there were a lot of great applicants, but in the end her husband had to make a decision!
The Easy Way Out
The problem with calling is that you cannot really script the call; they always go differently than expected. However, an email always goes according to the script. If you send the email out in bulk to all your applicants, be sure to use the “bcc” (email sender option) so the applicants do not see each other’s email addresses.
Here is a sample format for your email:
Thank you for taking the time to apply for my property at 123 StreetName Drive.
After carefully reviewing all the applications, I am sorry to inform you that we have decided to go with another application. Your application was very much appreciated, and if the approved application falls through I hope you don’t mind if I get in contact with you.
Thanks again for your application and good luck in your search.
All the best,
Rules to Remember
Even if you have a specific reason to reject an application, do not reveal it. You will just open a can of worms.
Keep your contact short and sweet.
Get in first and don’t give them an opportunity to come back asking questions.
The more applications you have, the better chance you have of selecting the best tenant.
My friend Kylie is a busy lady. Between a successful career and a growing family she barely has time for herself, let alone friends. So I was surprised and pleased the other day when she called to invite me for a coffee.
She and her husband Tom recently bought a second house as their first investment property. Now they are ready to see some return on their investment, so she came to me looking for some guidance for self managing their property.
You have got your property on the rental market. A number of potential tenants have toured the place and you have a nice selection of applications to choose from. Using the principles you learned from my Ninja Guide To The Tenant Screening Process, the pile is divided into “potentially great tenants” and “people you want nowhere near your property”. Of all the potentially great tenants, you can only choose one. For the sake of your sanity as a property owner, choosing the correct one is vitally important.
What in the world is a Ninja Guide? Coined by President and CEO of Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Gary Shapiro, the Ninja Guide is a metaphor Shapiro uses to demonstrate how to create a ‘killer strategy’. It is defined by clear goals, flexibility, focus on competition and innovative thinking.
1. Failing to Ask for a Bond
This is a security deposit held in case your tenant doesn’t meet their obligations under the lease agreement.
2. Not Having a Lease Agreement
This is a legally enforceable contract that details the length of the lease, rent amount, and the condition the tenant should leave the property as stated in the condition report.Typically if you are managing a rental property on your own, you may only have the option of purchasing a generic lease agreement from your local news agency or online. The problem with these generic forms is the lack of important information, like state and territory laws particular to your area. We have free state specific templates for you right here.
How do you know if a tenant is going to be good? Do you figure this out based on how they talk or the way they dress? Or do you simply rely on what your gut tells you? It’s important to take in as much information as you can about your potential new tenants, starting from the moment they call about your property to the moment you hand over the keys.
Once you hand over the keys and sign the lease there is no going back. If you have made a bad decision it’s very hard and costly to rectify the issue, so get it right from the start.