By: Alice Hannan
This month, my column is not a question as much as a concern I’m observing. Twice, recently, I’ve been in the office for committee meetings and have noticed how little attention some members are giving their application process. I fail to understand why any member would consider a resident without a thorough background check. After all, in reality, when you sign an agreement with a new resident, you are loaning the value of the property to the resident plus all the potentials for several forms of liability. So, at least as a minimum procedure, I urge every member to attend the Tenant Screening class offered by the Association.
A. I noticed all kinds of forms, some of which I felt uncomfortable about and would consider them inadequate. The Association has a great Application to rent available on its website (norcalrpa.org). It’s free to all members, except for the cost of the ink and paper in the printing. Yes, its three pages, but a very important three pages. And, yes, applications are periodically changed, so members should check the Association’s website to make sure you are using the very latest form.
B. Make sure you require a separate application for each person who will live in your property who is 18 years of age or older. And yes, that is EACH PERSON 18 years of age and above. One application for each person, even if your applicant is a couple who have been married 60 years and she has no income and has never worked. Why? Because you want to verify that each applicant is what they are telling you they are. This concept is in addition to the fact that you must treat each person equally, using the same procedure for each person. And, who knows, you might not find a credit file on her in the previous scenario, but that would verify that she is what they told you she was.
C. Make sure each applicant has signed the application. Our Association will not process any application which has not been signed by the applicant. I certainly don’t want anyone checking into my background without my consent and knowledge. Do You? Treat your applicants like you want to be treated.
D. On a separate sheet of paper, you should state the requirement(s) or criteria an applicant must meet to be “qualified” as a resident of your property. I think it is best if the criteria are attached to every application. However, some members prefer to post it in the property or the rental office. All potential residents have the right to see and understand the criteria you will be using to make your decision, especially if you are charging an application processing fee. Your criteria may be different from my criteria. If you have not completed this exercise and don’t know how to start, there are three avenues to assist you: 1. The Tenant Screening Classes are held on the second Wednesday, every other month. 2. The Boot Camp held on October 28, 29, 30 and 31, 6 to 9 PM. Both classes assist you with creating your criteria. 3. As a last resort, if you absolutely cannot attend the Tenant Screening Class or the Boot Camp, make an appointment with staff and I will come to the office according to my time and schedule and help you, even in the evening. I will require a donation to the Association in compensation for volunteering my time.
E. Don’t forget an application on the pet. Various situations are arising as a result of pets from the cancellation of your insurance to liability issues. Your pet policy should be included in your criteria. This form is also available from the Associations web site.