Oct 02

Attorney Tristan Pettit over at Landlord Tenant Law Blog has opened a discussion on the need for a written screening criteria.

I wholeheartedly agree that this is import on a number of levels.  First, if you have a well written criteria and follow it with all applicants you will protect yourself from Fair Housing claims.  Secondly, if you have a well written criteria you are less likely to bend your rules and end up with a tenant that won’t work out.

Remember that every owner needs to develop their own criteria to meet their own needs. A copy of ours is attached below.

Developing an acceptable criteria is a juggling act between many  opposing forces.  You need to fill your units, but if you chose applicants that don’t pay their bills, cause damage or engage in criminal activities you will lose more than you collect.

In regard to criminal records there are neighborhood advocates that believe no person with a criminal history should be allowed to live in their neighborhood.  At the same time there are also very active fair housing and criminal rights advocates that believe that it should be illegal to use criminal records  for ANY rental screening purpose.  (See DefeatAB340.org for more info on legislative efforts to restrict access to criminal records)  The latter group makes the argument that how can society expect people to reenter the community and succeed if no one will give them a job or a home.

We attempt to balance all of these concerns to the best of our ability in our criteria.  A copy of our criteria is give to all applicants along with the application. There is no legal requirement to have a written screening criteria, but having one will help you withstand allegations that you illegally discriminated against an applicant that you rejected.

But our criteria should not be adopted without considering your own needs and opinions.

Note: Many of the documentation items that Tristan has on his criteria sheet are on our “Documents Required to Apply” sheet, such as proof of income, proof of current address, government issued ID…

Affordable Rentals Milwaukee New Applicant Criteria


2 Responses to “Screening Criteria”

  1. Brian says:

    If your applicants meet the 1st list of criteria, you collect a $100 deposit. Is it safe to assume that you then continue with the screening and if the next 2 criteria are met, you collect the rest of the deposit and they are able to move in?

    But if they don’t meet those next 2 criteria you collect the full deposit and if they meet the next list of your criteria they are able to move it?

    But if they still don’t meet that next list of criteria you collect a double deposit or have a collectible cosigner, if they meet the last 3 criteria on your list and then they are able to move in?

    That sounds like an interesting way to do this.

  2. timB says:

    ALL applicants must pass the All Applicants section. You fail this section – end of application process.

    Here’s the part I should have explained a bit better.

    There is such a huge value in good tenants that we offer WELL qualified applicants a flat $100 deposit our own properties. Owners we do work for can opt in to this program if they wish. This incentive works well at attracting the type of tenant we want (long term, pay their bills, don’t damage the place and don’t cause problems with neighbors).

    If they are average applicants, then they pay a full deposit.

    If they are below average applicants or we can’t verify the application, we require a double deposit or collectable cosigner.

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