Tenant Screening and Lease-Up
Just as one cannot be sure success has been achieved in a career without defining success through goals, success at renting cannot be achieved unless the criteria for success is well defined. Besides knowing what you want for income and credit standing, having a definite Qualification Policy also makes it clear on what basis you are accepting applications and, more importantly, rejecting applicants. The last thing an owner wants is a Fair Housing complaint filed because the applicant thought he/she was discriminated against. Define your policy and stick to it. Ours is published right here on our website. For those properties that may be a bit more difficult to rent, we offer owners the option to accept our Fresh Start Qualification Policy.
You will note that we define our requirements in terms of Income, Credit Deficiencies, Rental History, Employment History & Stability as well as other criteria such as number of occupants and pets. Owners who hire MMI are not bound by our policy, but must make any changes IN WRITING and BEFORE WE ADVERTISE. Then, they are bound to adhere to the established policy. The only defense to a Fair Housing allegation is that you have a policy and that you adhere to it 100% of the time; not 99.99999%.
Persons interested in applying to rent an MMI property are given an application form and are expected to pay a reasonable application fee. Our screening process is generally completed within one business day following receipt of the application and fee. Tenants are notified of the decision, in writing, as required by law.
Once the application is approved, a lease is prepared on a form meeting the requirements of the particular jurisdiction wherein the property lies. In Prince George’s County, we use our own lease. Montgomery County requires that the lease contain certain elements, prohibits others and requires that the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs (OLTA) approve the lease form before use. Still other jurisdictions have their own requirements… Rockville, Gaithersburg and Takoma Park in particular. When the lease is ready, we ask the tenant to come to our office, sit down in our conference room to review the lease and to bring certified funds for the deposit. Once the deposit is paid and the lease is signed, and only then, we consider the property rented. Until then, we continue showing and receiving applications.
Tenants are furnished with all necessary phone numbers and instructions to switch applicable utilities into their names effective on the move-in date specified in the lease and are advised of the importance of securing renter’s insurance.
All leases of properties built before 1978 must be tested and must include information about Lead Paint Poisoning Prevention. We provide these pamphlets and obtain a receipt.
We’re ready for move in! The lease is signed and the security deposit is paid. We collect the first month’s rent and pass on the keys. Tenants also receive an inspection form on which they may note existing damages. The owner or property manager may accompany the tenant for a move-in inspection, but there is no requirement to do so.