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How Does a Property Management Company Screen Rental Applicants?

Property management companies shoulder significant responsibility in managing real estate investments and serving as a liaison between property owners and tenants. One of their most critical functions is screening rental applicants. Screening entails scrutinizing potential tenants to determine their suitability to lease a property – a process that involves several steps.

Screening Rental Applicants

1. The Initial Inquiry

The applicant screening process commences once a potential tenant shows interest in a property. At this juncture, property managers should provide the interested party with detailed information about the property, including rental rates, property features, and lease terms. In some cases, the candidate might seek specific rental options – such as townhouses for rent in Roseville – which the property manager should provide if available.

2. Rental Application

Issuing a comprehensive rental application form is a crucial step for property managers to gather essential information about potential tenants. This process helps them assess the applicant’s suitability and reliability as a tenant. Here’s an overview of the typical components of a rental application form:

  • Personal Information: The form collects basic personal information such as the applicant’s full name, date of birth, contact information, and current address. This information helps the property manager establish initial contact with the applicant and verify their identity.
  • Employment History: Applicants are typically required to provide details about their current and previous employment, including the names of employers, job titles, duration of employment, and income. This information helps property managers assess the applicant’s financial stability and ability to meet the rental obligations.
  • Rental History: The application form includes a section that requests details about the applicant’s previous rental history. This includes the names and contact information of previous landlords, rental durations, reasons for leaving previous rentals, and any rental disputes or issues. This information helps property managers assess the applicant’s rental conduct and reliability.
  • Credit History: Applicants must often consent to a credit check as part of the rental application process. This allows property managers to evaluate the applicant’s credit history, including their credit score, outstanding debts, and payment history. Assessing the applicant’s credit history helps property managers determine the applicant’s financial responsibility and ability to manage rental payments.
  • References: The application form typically includes a section for the applicant to provide references, such as previous landlords, employers, or personal references. These references can provide insights into the applicant’s character, behavior, and reliability. Property managers may use these references to conduct follow-up checks and gather additional information about the applicant’s background and rental conduct.
  • Authorization and Consent: The rental application form includes an authorization section that grants the property manager permission to conduct background checks, credit checks, and reference checks. Applicants must provide their consent to allow the property manager to verify the information provided in the application form.

3. Applicant Screening and Background Check

Once the rental application is submitted and the applicant pays the application fee, the screening process begins in earnest. During this phase, the property manager scrutinizes the application and checks the tenant’s background.

  • Credit Check: A critical component of the screening process is a credit check. This step allows the property manager to assess the applicant’s financial responsibility and ability to pay rent on time. The credit check provides information such as credit score, existing debts, and payment history, giving a clearer picture of the applicant’s financial habits.
  • Rental History: Property managers also examine the applicant’s rental history. Past behavior is often a reliable indicator of future conduct; thus, any issues in prior rentals could be red flags.
  • Employment Verification: Verification of employment history and current employment is another critical aspect of the screening process. Authenticating the applicant’s job enables the property manager to determine if the potential tenant has a regular income source capable of covering rent.
  • Criminal Background: Lastly, a criminal background check helps protect the property and other tenants from potential harm. While property managers must adhere to Fair Housing laws, they can deny applicants with a history of violent crimes, sex offenses, or drug-related crimes.

4. Following Up on References

Following up on references is a crucial step in the rental application process for property managers. By contacting references provided by the rental applicants, property managers can gain valuable insights into the applicant’s rental history, behavior, and overall suitability as a tenant. Here’s how property managers typically follow up on references:

  • Contacting Provided References: Property managers contact the references provided by the rental applicants. These references can include previous landlords, employers, or personal references. Contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses are typically provided by the applicants on their rental application forms.
  • Conducting Interviews: Property managers may interview the references over the phone or in-person to gather detailed information about the applicant. During these conversations, they inquire about the applicant’s rental conduct, timely payment of rent, property upkeep, and any other relevant details that can help assess the applicant’s suitability as a tenant.
  • Verifying Information: Property managers verify the information provided by the references to ensure accuracy. They may cross-check the provided information with other sources or conduct background checks to validate the authenticity of the details provided by the references.
  • Assessing Compatibility: Property managers assess the feedback received from the references to determine the applicant’s compatibility with the property’s rental requirements and policies. They consider the applicant’s rental history, behavior, and reliability as a tenant to make informed decisions about the rental application.
  • Maintaining Privacy and Compliance: Property managers handle the reference check process with utmost confidentiality and ensure compliance with privacy laws and regulations. They use the information from references solely to evaluate the applicant’s suitability for the rental property and do not disclose any sensitive details to unauthorized parties.

5. Tenant Selection

With all information gathered and checks done, the property manager decides on the applicant’s suitability. This decision should be based on objective criteria to avoid violating housing laws. If any concerns arise during screening, they must be discussed with the property owner before selecting the tenant. 

In providing these services, a property management company ensures the smooth operation of rental properties. Services from trusted companies like Action Properties services, often implement stringent rental applicant screening procedures as part of their comprehensive property management responsibilities.


Rental applicant screening is a vital process that every property management company should meticulously carry out. It not only helps protect the property investment but can also ensure a harmonious relationship between the property owner and tenants. As a tenant, understanding this process can better prepare you for the experience when looking for a home – homes for rent or townhouses for rent. Meanwhile, property owners can rest assured knowing that their property management company is going the extra mile to find the most suitable tenants.

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