Right now the rental market in San Francisco is pretty hot and chances are landlords are
receiving multiple applications for their units – so how do you choose which applicant to
rent your unit to when interviewing prospective tenants.
First of all you need to make sure you do not discriminate. Many landlords and property
managers adopt a first come first serve policy – not the applicant that shows up at
the door first but the first qualified applicant to submit a completed application.
However, many landlords want to take a more active role in choosing the tenant and
want to weigh all applicants and choose the best. This is fine too as long as you do not
discriminate. Decide what criteria are important and evaluate all applicants accordingly.
Some aspects to consider:
Income – obviously you want to make sure the tenants can pay the rent. A general
rule of thumb is applicants should make between 3 to 3.5 times the rent in gross pay.
Look at the longevity of their employment – is this a new job, a new career? Do they
have a stable employment history?
Credit Report – the credit report is an important piece of information when evaluating
prospective tenants but keep in mind that there are many great tenants out there with
not so great credit reports. Look at where their credit is bad – was there a divorce
several years ago and everything since has been paid on time? Did they lose their home
in the housing crash – many of those that lost their homes will make excellent tenants.
Do run a credit report that looks for eviction – at Gordon Property Management we
can overlook bumps in the credit history but we NEVER rent to anyone who has been
evicted – no matter what the reason.
Landlord references – You should try to get references from the current landlord and
the previous landlord. The current landlord might be all too happy to see them leave
and will not want to say anything negative. But landlords today are generally very
reluctant to give out much information good or bad. At Gordon Property Management
we will only tell you when the tenant moved in, whether or not they gave a 30-day-
notice and if they paid their monthly rent on time. We may add in a comment such as
they were delightful, but we will not say anything negative.
Finally, go with your gut feeling when you meet the prospective tenant. You want
someone who walks in to your unit saying, “Wow, this is great. This is where I want to
live,” as opposed to, “Are you going to fix this?” You want someone who likes your
rental property and will be a good fit. Point out the flaws in your rental and see who
will be ok with it – if there is a lot of street noise then someone very noise sensitive will
not be happy there. And sadly, in San Francisco you do not necessarily want the tenant
who will stay there forever – the ideal tenant will stay 1 – 3 years allowing the landlord
to bring the rent up to market every few years.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
Very informative – we take it seriously here in San Diego, as well.
It really does make a property manger’s life easier when we find the right tenant. For more information on how we do things in Las Vegas, take a look at this blog.
Great points! Before allowing someone to sign a lease, it is always good to know what to look for. Here in Florida, we do things a little differently. Take a look and let me know what you think.