What Makes an Applicant the Absolutely Perfect Renter?

If you find a vacancy on your hands, you probably have your eyes on the crème de la crème. The best of the best, the cream of the crop: only the best residents should be filling your vacancies, right? Now, it’s up to you to decide. How do you define an applicant with the potential to be the perfect resident?

Responsibility

Your resident should be responsible. They are organized and caring, and being responsible means that most likely, they know how to keep their books balanced, their checks in order, and Rent Day is well marked on their calendars. A responsible resident will pay you on time, with no fuss, no muss, no delays. But how do you know they’re responsible?

If you find a vacancy on your hands, you probably have your eyes on the crème de la crème. The best of the best, the cream of the crop: only the best residents should be filling your vacancies, right? Now, it’s up to you to decide. How do you define an applicant with the potential to be the perfect resident?

Responsibility

Your resident should be responsible. They are organized and caring, and being responsible means that most likely, they know how to keep their books balanced, their checks in order, and Rent Day is well marked on their calendars. A responsible resident will pay you on time, with no fuss, no muss, no delays. But how do you know they’re responsible?

hands cupping tiny plant

You should always use objective data when trying to assess a potential resident. No assumptions, no poking around their social media. Though some say by taking a look at the state of their car could give you a hint, such as if it’s washed or filled with sandwich bags and wrappers, that’s an extremely high-liability way to vet your applicants. Maybe they eat in their car to give them more time to focus on work, or because sitting in their car during rush hour is also their moment of tranquility and alone time.  Instead of jumping to conclusions, keep your mind open and focus on the reliable data you get from your trusted tenant screening provider. Keeping a steady job despite the highs and lows of the economy, or staying in one home for longer than average, can indicate whether this person is as steady as a rock or if they tend to fish-flop around in a more noncommittal way that could raise red flags.

hands cupping tiny plant

You should always use objective data when trying to assess a potential resident. No assumptions, no poking around their social media. Though some say by taking a look at the state of their car could give you a hint, such as if it’s washed or filled with sandwich bags and wrappers, that’s an extremely high-liability way to vet your applicants. Maybe they eat in their car to give them more time to focus on work, or because sitting in their car during rush hour is also their moment of tranquility and alone time.  Instead of jumping to conclusions, keep your mind open and focus on the reliable data you get from your trusted tenant screening provider. Keeping a steady job despite the highs and lows of the economy, or staying in one home for longer than average, can indicate whether this person is as steady as a rock or if they tend to fish-flop around in a more noncommittal way that could raise red flags.

Honesty

Determining whether someone is honest in a quick, objective way is quite challenging. Maybe something about meeting them just gives that awkward tingle in the back of your mind. Maybe something just puts you on edge and your gut is saying that they’re a little suspicious. On the bright side, sometimes an applicant will be outright honest with you and give you something to verify. For example, they might say:

Woman speaking to explain

If an applicant volunteers this information on their own free will, it might indicate that they’re willing to face the hard truths. They understand what they are meant to handle on their own such as maintenance that they are responsible for, damage that they have caused, or just being upfront about their ability to pay rent on time. When you call their reference property manager, you can find out if they’re making excuses, or if they were honest about a specific problem and how they were able to fix it with minimal inconvenience. You want a resident that won’t make up stories or try to lie their way out of a rent payment. Everyone has hardships, or can make mistakes from time to time, but transparency can go a long way in proving your applicant has integrity and is more likely to be an honest renter.

Honesty

Determining whether someone is honest in a quick, objective way is quite challenging. Maybe something about meeting them just gives that awkward tingle in the back of your mind. Maybe something just puts you on edge and your gut is saying that they’re a little suspicious. On the bright side, sometimes an applicant will be outright honest with you and give you something to verify. For example, they might say:

"You'll probably find this out when you call my reference, so I'd like to put it all out there now. There was a time I could not pay my rent, because of [X, Y, and Z factors], but it was the only time! And I managed to work it out with my previous property manager by doing [A, B, and C actions]."

If an applicant volunteers this information on their own free will, it might indicate that they’re willing to face the hard truths. They understand what they are meant to handle on their own such as maintenance that they are responsible for, damage that they have caused, or just being upfront about their ability to pay rent on time. When you call their reference property manager, you can find out if they’re making excuses, or if they were honest about a specific problem and how they were able to fix it with minimal inconvenience. You want a resident that won’t make up stories or try to lie their way out of a rent payment. Everyone has hardships, or can make mistakes from time to time, but transparency can go a long way in proving your applicant has integrity and is more likely to be an honest renter.

No (to Limited) Criminal History

This one is a doozy. It always feels good to say, “I want absolutely no criminals living at my properties!” That feels like a no brainer, because of course, criminals are bad and dangerous and you want your properties to be safe and happy and healthy and wholesome and butterflies and rainbows.

It’s easy to forget that the law can vary greatly across county and state lines, and that a felony in one place may barely be an infraction where your property is located. A common example of this has been the recent influx of states legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana, while other states have made no such changes. Simply having a criminal conviction doesn’t mean the applicant could be a threat to your property and residents. Bright Line standards are tough and should be avoided as much as possible. Maybe that background check shouldn’t make you think, “DENIED!” and instead think “Maybe they just like brownies.”

No (to Limited) Criminal History

This one is a doozy. It always feels good to say, “I want absolutely no criminals living at my properties!” That feels like a no brainer, because of course, criminals are bad and dangerous and you want your properties to be safe and happy and healthy and wholesome and butterflies and rainbows.

It’s easy to forget that the law can vary greatly across county and state lines, and that a felony in one place may barely be an infraction where your property is located. A common example of this has been the recent influx of states legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana, while other states have made no such changes. Simply having a criminal conviction doesn’t mean the applicant could be a threat to your property and residents. Bright Line standards are tough and should be avoided as much as possible. Maybe that background check shouldn’t make you think, “DENIED!” and instead think “Maybe they just like brownies.”

Jokes aside, there are criminal records you do want to look carefully at when making your decision. Best practices recommend leaving out generalized deviant behavior and focusing on more specific examples of the kind of criminal history to avoid.

  • Sexual offenders and those on the sex offender registry (especially when your property is within a close vicinity to where children congregate)
  • Those convicted of property damage
  • Offenders with a history of violence

When looking at the background history of your potential resident, stay clear of bright line standards and liabilities.

 

Jokes aside, there are criminal records you do want to look carefully at when making your decision. Best practices recommend leaving out generalized deviant behavior and focusing on more specific examples of the kind of criminal history to avoid.

  • Sexual offenders and those on the sex offender registry (especially when your property is within a close vicinity to where children congregate)
  • Those convicted of property damage
  • Offenders with a history of violence

When looking at the background history of your potential resident, stay clear of bright line standards and liabilities.

 

Finding the perfect resident can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible. If you find one who displays themselves honestly and has a non-violent past clear of relevant offenses, you are off to a good start. Then you can move on to make sure they are reliable and responsible. At least you know what you don’t want, and the general idea of what the perfect one would look like. That’s as good a start as any.

Finding the perfect resident can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible. If you find one who displays themselves honestly and has a non-violent past clear of relevant offenses, you are off to a good start. Then you can move on to make sure they are reliable and responsible. At least you know what you don’t want, and the general idea of what the perfect one would look like. That’s as good a start as any.

What makes a resident Let us know in the comments below!

Spread the word. Share this post!

Nicole Seidner

Cole Seidner is a copywriter here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design with a focus in creative nonfiction. Her free time is spent taking pictures of her dogs or reading deep dive analysis on movies that she hasn’t seen.

Comments (2)

  1. Avatar

    RG McClaflin

    Reply

    Looking first for occupants that can physically meet code for space limitations. Next, kind and length of employment followed by income requirement of at least 3 times monthly rent plus average utility cost added. Then review of full CIC background check inclusions. I explain my minimum standard and recommend creditkarma.com if uncertain of their personal details. Also discuss criminal and civil history. If discussion standards met then agree to scheduled showing with reconfirmation necessary.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.