Property Management Blog

SETTING YOUR RENTAL CRITERIA


PMI Virginia - Monday, May 27, 2019

 (NOTE – This blog will not cover fair housing, although we have a links to fair housing data below for your reference.)

WHERE DO YOU DEFINE YOUR RENTAL CRITERIA?

  1. Every one of your rental ads and fliers should contain your rental criteria.
  2. When pre-screening inquiries, ask each candidate your qualification questions to ensure you are showing the property only to those potential renters who say they meet the criteria.
  3. Your application is the third time you share your criteria with a prospect.  Ask each of your qualification questions right on your application so you have the potential tenant’s answers in writing. Of course, your screening process will validate or invalidate the information the applicant shared on their application.
Key House

WHY DEFINE YOUR RENTAL CRITERIA?

  1. Defining exactly what it takes to qualify for each property will allow prospective tenants to prescreen themselves, saving you both time if they don’t qualify.
  2. Holding every prospective to the same standard will reduce the chances of landlords and property managers getting accused of discrimination.
  3. If you use multiple leasing agents to show your rentals, having defined criteria in writing will ensure they are consistently delivering the same message to every prospective tenant.

 SAMPLE OF PMI VIRGINIA’S RENTAL CRITERIA

QUALIFIED APPLICANTS WILL... 

  • Have verifiable, reliable income of at least 3 times the rent (Exceptions -Military BAH, VA HUD VASH, HUD Housing Choice Voucher) 
  • Have a maximum of 6 occupants 
  • Have a maximum of 2 unrelated adults 
  • Not owe money to any previous landlords 
  • Not have any recent evictions 
  • No Pets

SOME PITFALLS TO AVOID

  1.  HUD determined in 2017 that it is illegal for landlords to use “felony status” as a rental criterion.  This means that you cannot say you “won’t rent to anyone with a felony in the last X years.” You can, however use the criminal background check to make your acceptance decision.  You must use common sense rather than just felony status on its own.
  2. Many states now deem it illegal for landlords to use “type of income” as a rental criterion. This means landlords no longer have the right to blanketly say they will not accept tenants with a Section 8 voucher.  You can, however, hold a voucher holding tenant to the same criteria you would hold every other tenant, using the amount of their voucher as a source of income.
  3. Our society is sue-happy these days. To minimize the risk of a fair housing investigation or lawsuit, hold every applicant to the same criteria, without exception.  When you get tempted to make an exception, think about how the decision will look in front of a Judge and remember that fair housing cases are heard at a state or federal level and are VERY expensive to litigate.


FAIR HOUSING LINKS

HUD

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/fair_housing_act_overview

FAIR HOUSING LAWS BY STATE

http://lawatlas.org/datasets/state-fair-housing-protections-1498143743

VIRGINIA FAIR HOUSING

http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/FairHousing/

VIRIGNIA STATE FAIR HOUSING COURSE SCHEDULE

http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/FairHousing/VFHO_Class_Schedule/