Is Your Rental Criteria Using any of these Faux Pas?

Figuring out which applicants will make trustworthy renters can be stressful and time consuming. While your community has set rental criteria, it can take hours out of your day, sifting through background screening reports, to determine which applicants qualify. On top expediting your applicant approval process, a customized decision model eliminates any question that your rental policy (or decision process) might be based on subjective and discriminatory factors. When nailing down your written rental criteria for your decision model, here are some tips on how to get the best renters for you.

Things to Consider when Creating Written Rental Criteria:

  1. Avoiding bright-line standards

While many rental properties utilize bright-line standards in their rental criteria, bright-line standards can ultimately cause you to lose quality applicants. For example, a common standard is the policy that if the applicant has any felonies, then it will result in an automatic denial. The problem with this is that what is considered a felony in one state could be a misdemeanor in another. Additionally, not all felonies are severe. For example, if you are not an American Indian, it’s a felony to be in possession with an American Eagle feather. Under the “all felonies will result in a denial” bright-line standard, the applicant would be denied despite the fact that the felony poses no threat to your community. By narrowing down your rental criteria to cover specifics (like specifying a ban on felonies that involve violence, drugs, and sex crimes) and avoiding bright-line standards, you can continue to protect your community without shooting down potentially long-term renters.

  1. Standards that align to your property’s area

You know what rental criteria applicants must qualify for to be accepted as a resident, but do you have written guidelines on conditional or denied applicants? You want all your applicants to have a good FICO score, but have you thought of what scoring range do applicants need to have to have a conditional acceptance? When figuring out your rental criteria for your decision model, be sure to consider all the factors (like tradelines and past due balances) that pertain to an acceptance, denial, and conditional acceptance. Set rental factors that are realistic to your community’s size and location. The sooner you set your rental criteria, the better.

  1. Be Aware of Discriminatory Policies

While this might seem obvious, it bears repeating. To avoid a discrimination case, you should analyze your rental criteria and get rid of any policies that might be discriminatory. Be aware of the Fair Housing Act’s current protected classes and remove any rental criteria factors that may discriminate because of “race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and the presence of children.” Although age is not currently deemed a protected class, you should tread lightly around these gray areas. No one wants an expensive lawsuit on their hands.

What is a Decision Model and How can I Benefit from it?

As we went over in a previous article, a decision model is a checklist of your rental requirements (set by your company) that automatically determines whether an applicant should be accepted, denied, or has conditional requirements. Based on your rental requirements, you’ll be able to set acceptable Experian National Risk score and FICO score ranges on your decision model. You can also set the risk levels of past due tradelines, repossessions, and other factors. With a decision model like CIC™’s CrosXScore, you’ll be able to quickly tell whether or not an applicant should be accepted, all based off your company’s pre-selected criteria.

Now that you won’t have to analyze background reports, you’ll have more time to focus on marketing vacancies, building trust with residents and holding events. Additionally, with written rental requirements in a decision model, you’ll be able to uphold your company standards, avoid fair housing violations, and efficiently fill vacancies. For your company, customized decision models uniform the rental process and makes sure that there are no discrepancies between properties.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of your decision model depends on the quality of background screening information you use. Regardless of if you use a decision model in the end, if you don’t believe you have quality resident screening, then you probably aren’t going to select the highest qualified applicants for your community either way. However, if you trust your tenant screening company, and want to increase your productivity with customized decision models like CrosXScore, be sure to review whether your community’s rental criteria is realistic and thorough, avoids bright-line standards, and eliminates all discriminatory policies. Your community deserves to have the best residents.


Do you think your written rental requirements are realistic for your community? Do you currently use a decision model in your rental process?

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Check Out these Other Great Articles!

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Can You Rely on your Tenant Screening Reports?

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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