You’ve searched for a rental and finally found the one you want. You’ve read all about how quickly the rental market is moving, so you rush to fill out the rental application, including what you feel is way too much personal information, and submit it along with the rental criteria and any other forms required by the property manager, plus an application fee. Then you wait. And wait. And wait some more. The clock seems to move slower than molasses and you’re beginning to worry that something is wrong and you won’t be approved. Why is your rental application taking so long? Why don’t you have an answer yet?
The Rental Application Process
Most people don’t quite know what goes on “behind the scenes” after you submit a rental application, so we thought we’d pull the curtain back and help you understand what it is that takes so long. Typically, most applications take 2-5 days (it used to be about 2-3 days, but now we’re seeing it closer to 2-5 days) for a decision, but there are instances where it may take more. We should note, the management company has up to seven days to make a decision – if they don’t make one in the time allotted, the application is considered rejected by default. That doesn’t help to put anyone’s mind at ease when they’re worrying about how much time the process is taking, but it is one of the lesser known facts about Texas rentals.
So why exactly does a rental application typically take so long? The answer lies in the three main components of the process. First a credit and background check will be conducted. There are companies that do these checks – they connect to national databases for credit and criminal background information, and depending on the company, they may also check eviction databases they maintain, search for social security number discrepancies, and show any previous attempts at verification from other property managers. These reports actually take up only a small amount of time and after inputting the information into their system, the average time for the reports to come back is probably less than an hour. The longest I’ve ever waited was about 5 hours.
The next two items are the real time killers. There are two items that need to be verified – your rental history and your employment and income. In order to do that, a property management professional will send forms to your current landlord and employer. Along with those forms, they will send Page 4 of the TAR Residential Lease Application, which is an Authorization to Release Information Related to a Residential Lease Applicant (that’s a mouthful!). Much like it says in the form name, it gives your employer or landlord permission to release information to the company processing your rental application.
Unfortunately, we often see these forms sent, but not returned in a timely fashion. We will often try to contact whoever is listed on your application (your boss, supervisor, or human resources manager or the apartment manager or landlord) a few times to see if we can speed up the process, but many times we are met with, “I didn’t receive that” or, “Can you send it again?” This is where the bottleneck occurs – without the forms, we can’t verify important information, so we just have to keep trying.
Apartments are actually the worst at returning these forms and it can be quite frustrating. Not only do they go a bit slower than everyone would like, but if you haven’t given your notice yet, many apartments will not release any information on your rental history. This can lead to your application being turned down for unverifiable information (check the property manager’s rental criteria for exact details of their requirements).
The process takes a while and it can be frustrating. As a property manager, we want to speed up the process, as getting a tenant in the home is our ultimate goal and every day the rental is not filled is costing the owner money. We recognize the issues and work to find ways to help the process along, but these forms are really in someone else’s hands and more often than not, they are the cause of your rental application taking so long. The best way you can help? Provide good contact information and include a name, telephone number, fax number, and email address for the appropriate contact. If you only give the bare minimum contact information, that means someone has to track it down, further slowing the process down. Always fill out your applications completely and make sure you write legibly – it really does matter!
image courtesy of LifeSupercharger