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Property Management Tips: Rental Application Mistakes to Avoid

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Property Management Tips: Rental Application Mistakes to Avoid

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The rental application is one of the most important parts of a landlord’s business because it makes it possible for landlords to screen and place the most qualified tenants in their rental properties.

Sadly, it’s possible for some landlords to make common mistakes with rental applications that could be very costly.

Thankfully, landlords everywhere can protect themselves from costly rental application mistakes by following these tips.

Tip #1 – The Rental Application Can’t Be Discriminatory

One of the first mistakes to avoid with the rental application is to make sure that it adheres to the Fair Housing Act. This means that it cannot ask questions based on an applicant’s color, race, gender, nationality, age, disability, religion, or family status.

If a rental application is deemed as being discriminatory, this can lead to lawsuits down the road, so it’s best that landlords always take the time to have a legal, nondiscriminatory rental application created before they start screening the first tenants for their rental property.

Besides not asking questions that can be classified as discriminatory, landlords must also keep in mind that they cannot discriminate against tenants based on their personal habits including smoking.

The good news is that even if a tenant does smoke, or in some cases does legal drugs, the landlord can put in place a non-smoking policy that prohibits that behavior in their rental property.

This gives the Portland landlord the flexibility of acknowledging the tenants’ habits when they’re screening that tenant but, it gives them a way to politely decline their application because of their non-smoking policy.

About The Fair Housing Act

It is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, including against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities. The Fair Housing Act prohibits this discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability. A variety of other federal civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibit discrimination in housing and community development programs and activities, particularly those that are assisted with HUD funding. These civil rights laws include obligations such as taking reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) and taking appropriate steps to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities through the provision of appropriate auxiliary aids and services. Various federal fair housing and civil rights laws require HUD and its program participants to affirmatively further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act.

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Tip #2 – Make Sure the Rental Application Letter Isn’t Discriminatory 

In the property management world, landlords walk a fine line between discriminatory versus nondiscriminatory behavior, and the same is true when it comes to informing a tenant that their rental application has been declined.

If the tenant is to be mailed a letter stating why the tenant’s rental application was declined, the letter must not be discriminatory.

This means that the letter cannot say that the tenant’s rental application was declined due to their family status, race, gender, or personal habits.

On the other hand, rental applications can be declined based on the tenant’s income, credit score or lack of personal references, and the landlord can cite those reasons in the rental application letter.

Tip #3 – Charging Fees That Are Not in Accordance with The Law 

Another important rental application mistake to avoid is charging fees that are not in accordance with the law. This means charging an application fee and security deposit which are far more than what is allowed in the state of Oregon.

Rental application fees in Oregon range from $45 to $50 and an additional $25 for each adult in the family.

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Tip #4 – Accepting Rental Applications That Are Illegible

So far, in this article, we’ve given you several important things that you should look out for during the process of screening tenants for your rental property but another important rental application mistake to avoid is accepting a rental application that’s not legible.

Your tenant’s rental application must be readable and easy for you to decipher because, if it’s sloppy or it has multiple spelling mistakes, that could lead to confusion for you down the line, and more trouble for your rental property business than you could possibly imagine.

Tenants should always be given the opportunity to submit a rental application that’s clear and easy to read. If they are unwilling to accept this opportunity, it’s important to ask the reason why; and to realize that their lack of care when filling out the rental application could be a sign of things to come if you were to place that tenant in your rental property.

Tip #5 – Accepting Rental Applications That Are Incomplete 

Besides not accepting rental applications that are illegible, landlords must also not accept applications that are incomplete.
Tenants must be willing to provide all the required data on the rental application including previous references for landlords and employers. If these references cannot be provided, the landlord must ask the question why?

During the process of screening a rental application, landlords must also scrutinize a tenant’s rental history, especially if they only stay in a rental property for six months or less.

Yes, it’s true that the tenant could be in a profession which requires them to travel quite frequently but, if they are underlined willing or unable to explain why they move so frequently, landlords must take that as a sign of things to come, and as a warning sign that the tenant could be somebody who decides to move within the first six months of their lease.

Contact Us

At Rent Portland Homes – Professionals, we specialize in full-service property management for the Portland Oregon area.

Our services also include screening and placing tenants in rental properties. This saves landlords the time, money, and hassle of tenant screening while ensuring that they only have the most qualified tenants possible living in their rental properties.

To learn more about the property management services that we can offer you, contact us today by calling (503) 447-7735 or clicking here to connect with us online.