Updated: Jul 1
If you’re a landlord or property manager, three questions to consider:
1. Are you happy with the current technology you employ during your leasing process?
2. Do you think your residents are happy with the experience it provides?
3. How many hours of work are required to screen & onboard an applicant?
COVID-19 has prompted landlords to re-evaluate their leasing process and the surrounding technology to support remote work, limit face-to-face contact and help stop the spread of the disease.
In recent weeks, we’ve surveyed over 200 renters and landlords about their leasing experiences. We’ll share what we learned about what the typical leasing process looks like, the pain points we’ve uncovered, and what you can do to improve your process.
Today’s Leasing Process: Labor Intensive and Manual
Universally, rental applications require all applicants to answer basic questions, consent to a credit and background check, provide references, and supply documents to help “prove” their stated income.
According to our survey, 43% of rental applications were completed in-person using hard-copy paper documents. Only 16% were fully online, with the balance being a combination of email/in-person elements. From there, the screening process is highly manual – even if the application is submitted online. That makes sense. At a very high level, the current application process boils down to: asking potential tenants to self-report a bunch of critical information, then provide documents and references that can be used to validate it. To verify self-reported applicant information, landlords need to manually inspect bank statements/pay stubs, look for red flags on credit/background/eviction reports and research the listed references and contact them (among other things). While online applications expedite the process, confirming the accuracy of that information still demands old-fashioned time consuming leg work.
Once the screening process is complete, executing a lease is still largely done manually– we found that over 65% of leases are still being signed in person.
A Balancing Act: Detecting Fraud vs Dissuading Applicants
Given the lack of robust fraud prevention tools available to landlords, (understandably) many are reluctant to rent to someone they haven’t met in person. In the increasingly digital world we live in, fraudsters are constantly evolving. Professionally forged pay stubs are easily available. Whereas in the past, applicants might have listed a friend’s number as a reference, there are now online services that will create entirely fake companies and references.
Forrester research shows that 97% of property management companies have experienced fraud in their properties, with 83% reporting up to 20 instances over two years. As landlords move to more digitized tools, proper diligence is more important than ever. Many landlords have expanded their requirements to include longer histories of pay stubs, bank statements, W2’s. Of course, since these are provided by the applicant, this means more time spent combing through them to spot inconsistencies.
While increasing requirements may give you more confidence, it makes the process more time consuming for both you and interested applicants. Collecting, compiling and delivering months and months of PDF’s of pay-stubs and bank statements can be onerous. We found that the average rating for “how easy was the application process” was 2.7 out of 5 stars. Remember, the rental application is a potential tenant’s first glimpse into you as a landlord. Of those that rated their application experience 3-stars or below, over half said it decreased their confidence in the quality and responsiveness of the landlord. First impressions matter.
In a 2017 survey, Buildium found that tenants with “good onboarding” were 12 times as likely to love their rental, and 3 times as likely to love their property manager. When thinking about long term retention, it’s crucial to design your application and onboarding processes not only to guard against fraud, but also to put your best foot forward. Your leasing process should inspire confidence that you’re going to be responsive and attentive to all tenants.
Findigs Will Transform Your Leasing Process. We Make It Secure, Efficient and User Friendly.
Let’s return to our original questions. How can you design a process that eliminates fraud, saves you and your staff time, and delivers a first-rate experience to applicants?
Sound like a tall order? Well we’ve spent a year designing Findigs to help you do just that, without increasing your software costs.
It starts with the Findigs sleek, yet fully customizable digital rental application. Interested renters can complete it in minutes, not hours, from anywhere because our income verification process eliminates self-reporting and all physical documents. Instead, we use end-to-end encryption to allow applicants to securely link their bank accounts. Our algorithms then deliver insights about their income, assets and even previous rental payments that are 100% verified, since they come directly from their financial institutions. Beyond financial stability metrics, Findigs uses the latest technology to instantly verify the legitimacy of an applicant’s identity, their references, and more.
Instead of having to manually inspect PDFs, you get an intuitive dashboard populated by accurate information. A comprehensive soft credit, background and eviction report is, of course, included.
Findigs also delivers a best-in-class onboarding experience – once an applicant is approved, Findigs provides a free digital concierge that allows tenants to easily e-sign your lease, and helps them set up renter’s insurance, internet and other essentials for their new rental. Renters can send the security deposit, and ongoing rent seamlessly through Findigs, or via your existing property management software.
To see how Findigs can transform your leasing process into a user-friendly, secure and frictionless experience, click here to get started with our accounts team. We can have you set up in minutes.
We’re committed to helping landlords make the digital transition during these challenging times – so while we don’t charge any fixed fees, we are waiving all of our costs during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Get a demo and see the industry’s most advanced leasing software for yourself.
 Tonner, Andia. “Misunderstanding And Inconsistency: The State Of Fraud In The Rental Housing Industry .” Forrester Consulting, TransUnion, Aug. 2018, www.transunion.com/resources/transunion/doc/campaign/RS-18-286413-forrester-study-fraud-campaign/TU-RS-Fraud-report-2018.pdf.