After so many years in the job you can get ‘a feeling’ from people, which is why we insist on meeting applicants face to face. But there are a hundred other ‘tells’ that speak volumes to agents.
Perhaps the first thing we notice is if a prospective tenant takes their shoes off at their first inspection ... or at least ask if they should. Respecting someone else’s property is important when they may be invited to live in it.
Another thing is appearance. Are they neat and tidy? Do they present like they have made an effort. Also, is their car well maintained and tidy? Someone who is struggling to keep their car clean may struggle to maintain a house too.
We often strike up a conversation during an inspection to get a bit of background on the prospective tenants too. We may discuss their reason for moving house. Is this house closer to where you work? Is it big enough for everyone that will be living here? Lots of information can be gathered during these conversations.
If the application progresses, Landlords often ask for some background information to get a feel for the applicants. Sometimes these conversations can help a Landlord decide between two great applicants. For example, a landlord may choose ‘the local family who need a bigger home’, over the ‘people moving from interstate to look for work.
If all those signs are good and we progress to an application, we start the screening process again. How much effort did they make to fill in their application? How much detail have they included? Have they bothered to provide names and phone numbers for references. If an effort has been made it’s a good indication that the tenant really wants the property & they’re organised!
With the application in hand we begin screening again. We look for stretches of time where no address has been provided. Should that happen warning bells go off. We confirm that the address on the applicants license appears somewhere on their application. We contact their previous landlord or agent and check whether the tenant had pets at their previous address. We ask them if they know the tenants reason for leaving ... are they leaving voluntarily or is there a Termination Notice in effect?
After all that, we check the tenants ledger for arrears, confirm their employment or income ... and then we move on to web checks on Agent portals.
If all of those markers are met we contact the Landlord to put the tenants application to them for approval.
It may sound intrusive, but we do make it as pleasant and friendly as possible. The process is not intended to intimidate or offend, but merely to protect our landlords, as much as we possibly can, from having a bad experience.
For the successful applicant it is the beginning of what we hope is a long, happy association with our firm. Plenty of our friends are current or former tenants. In fact some of our tenants have become staff members!
So, next time you have tenants move in next door, make sure you say hello! There is absolutely no screening when someone buys the house next door, but when our tenants move in you know they’ve passed all our tests and they really love the house and the area.