Tenant Screening

Rejecting an Applicant for Tenancy

No good person ever really wants to reject or refuse service to anyone – whether it’s a bank, employer, insurance company or whatever. If the applicant doesn’t meet your minimum requirements (those same requirements that have been applied to everyone else who has applied – regardless of race, color or creed), then there is not much left for you to do, aside from turning them down. After all, in the end, remember it’s strictly business.

Making a Business Decision

It’s an odd thing to say, but you must depersonalize the experience – because all you are doing when either accepting or rejecting an application is strictly making a business decision. Too many individual landlords, in particular, dread the “turn down.” Sure, the applicant will be disappointed, but don’t allow your emotions get the best of you. In fact, the easiest way to avoid too much hardship is to preface the whole event with your own little caveat at the time you accept a tenant’s application.

For example, for those that have “denial anxiety,” it’s sometimes much easier to tell someone as they are applying that you are considering at least one other applicant that claims to have marginal credit. You do not want to over-exaggerate by saying the other one has good credit, because this could easily deter anyone else from applying if they feel their own credit is less than perfect – after all, who wants to run the risk of paying a non-refundable application fee? And unless you really do have another prospect lined up, you might find your property vacant again for yet another month. If it makes you feel better not having to lie, then just be candid with them about the stringency of your individual guidelines.

In the end, as long as you have given the applicant every possible courtesy when reviewing their application – including thoroughly and carefully considering their credit, eviction record, criminal record, employment, references and (for those with problems) even suggesting a list of acceptable alternative documents, it’s okay if the applicant doesn’t past muster – you’ve tried your best to be accommodating. And, as cliché as it sounds, you’ll get used to it. In fact, you need to prepare yourself to turn down as many as it takes to get a decent tenant. Otherwise, you may be inclined to accept somebody who is just too much of a risk at a time when local market conditions don’t justify lowering your standards so substantially.