What Rental Applicants Want to Know About Your Leasing Process
This summer, Vero asked more than 600 prospective renters what information they wish they had when they began their application process. We categorized responses to better understand how applicants think and where landlords, managers, and brokers can improve their processes and provide a better experience.
Approval status: when will I know if I’m approved?
In competitive markets, securing an apartment can be more about the speed of submission than explicit qualifications. The growing list of lease guarantee and security deposit financing alternatives is only making it more difficult to differentiate between the quality of a given group of applicants. For applicants, that means it’s more important than ever to know where they stand relative to other groups and whether they need to apply to other listings. For managers, a leasing solution needs to provide enough depth to differentiate between applicants while also keeping applicants up to date with automated notifications.
Documents: what matters and what doesn’t?
Often, landlords and property managers do not specify which documents are necessary for approval until after an initial application is submitted. If documents are specified, it’s usually unclear what the dependencies are between them. With document review a significant source of direct labor costs, clarifying what is necessary and what is conditional as will save managers time and streamline the experience for the applicant by reducing the number of interactions.
Technology can also help alleviate the document burden and accelerate time to close. In Vero’s digital income verification workflow, we clearly outline the benefits of our approach and see less than 1% of our applicants opt for manual upload instead. Our clients are only reviewing an average of ~2 supplementary documents per application, a more than 50% reduction from average requirements before Vero was introduced.
Credit checks: is it hard inquiry or soft inquiry?
Unlike most credit check services individual consumers, tenant screening providers may not guarantee a “soft check” that doesn’t affect your credit score. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when applicants and guarantors react poorly when asked to hand over a security number for a hard inquiry that can lower a credit score as much as five points.
Any screening vendor that isn’t offering a soft check is one that’s potentially limiting the size of the qualified applicant pool for a listing.
SSN: I don’t have a social security number, how should I proceed?
In major metropolitan areas and many university towns, foreigners constitute a significant segment of the renter population. With credit and criminal reporting systems entirely reliant on social security numbers, there is no standardized process to understand the quality of international applicants. Confusion is understandable when most application processes don’t articulate alternative requirements for foreign applicants and may even block submission because of a missing data point.
While managers need to account for the inability to perform background checks with better communication and guidelines, fintech platforms like Vero can evaluate the financial health of international applicants just as easily as it does domestic ones. Keeping a consistent process can save applicants and managers time and energy before closing.
Guarantors: what process do they go through?
First-time renters are often unfamiliar with the guarantor concept, while guarantors may not have been exposed to a rental process in more than a decade. Letting guarantors know that they are screened in similar ways to the prospective renters — with more stringent income and asset thresholds to meet — at the beginning of the process, can save the angry or confused phone call when it comes time to submit.