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If you’re looking to automate your tenant on-boarding process, here are some great tips to bring that dream to life.  

Now you can find and move in great tenants while you’re bringing your daughter to college or taking that vacation.

So, first a primer on the tenant on-boarding steps, and then we’ll address the details and tools for each step.  In this case, we’ll assume you’re advertising the property already:

Tenant On-boarding Process

  1. Create your application acceptance standards
  2. Communicate these standards to candidates
  3. Receive & review rental applications
  4. Run background  checks
  5. Select and move in!

OK, now a bit more color on these steps:

Download our infographic for a quick overview of the process.

Infographic: How to Tenant Screen

1.  Create your application acceptance standards

Commonly landlords gloss right over this step and go straight to communicating with inbound prospects and/or showing the property. This will inevitably lead to lots more work, confusion and stress on your part.

Decide on your applicant acceptance criteria ahead of time, and write it down.  There are lots of benefits to this practice — refer to our Tenant Screening Guide and/or Compliance Guide to learn more.   The key here  is you must have your empirical standards and stick to them.


A variety of tools exist for this purpose and it’s ideal to keep in mind your overall process when selecting tools.  Rent Marketplace and other landlord software suites will help you document your high-level applicant screening standards.  Other easy, online tools are Google Docs/Drive, a simple Word doc, and Dropbox.

2.  Communicate Your Standards

This is a great time-saver — communicate your standards before you start touring the property with candidates.  

If you don’t accept people with recent felonies, or a credit score below 600, or those with 20% of their trade-lines past due, or a less than 3x rent to income ratio — relay this before touring the property,  

The time savings here can be immense.  And as a bonus, you are weeding out candidates who won’t meet your criteria before they complete a background check — so you won’t have to worry about potential screening costs, sending adverse action letters, or nuisance complaints.  


  • Post and share your standards in Google Docs/Google Drive
  • If you have a property website, post your applicant acceptance standards online
  • Consider posting your standards with your advertisement listing
  • If someone inquires via email, set up an auto-responder that includes your standards

Additional Alternatives

  • If you use a specific phone number for your rental, place your standards on voicemail recording
  • A more manual process, but equally effective, is to post the requirements by or in your lockbox, and have applicants sign to acknowledge

3.  Receive and Review Rental Applications

What you’re looking for here when reviewing the applications is completeness and accuracy.  

When reviewing applications, ask yourself:

Is this complete?  Examples:

  • Is there a full employment history and residence history?  I like to ask about the last 4 years
  • Are they supporting the application readily and proactively with a copy of their driver’s license, pay stubs/1099’s (if self-employed), and bank statements?
  • What gaps are missing, and why?

Is this accurate?

  • Do the landlord references match the application?  
  • Do the pay stubs back up the stated income?

Tools that help automate:

  1.  Rent Marketplace:  This whole process is automated, secure, and online
  2.  Google Docs or Gmail:  Tell your applicants that applications submitted with supporting documentation will be given priority
  3. Dropbox
  4. A solid tenant application form — see the Landlord Toolkit for an application you can use and email if desired
  5. Smartphones – Your applicants can easily take pictures of their ID or even scan pay stubs

4.  Run Background Checks

Deciding who to rent to is just about the biggest decision that leads to success. What you’re looking for in your background screening partner, aside from experience in this niche field, is:

  • A modern, easy online navigation
  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Great support

These characteristics will support a virtual process just as effectively as an ‘in-person’ process.


Most reports should be returned within 1 minute of the applicant’s submission.


Some think background reports are all alike, then you listen to a podcast about how the landlord misread the report and rented to a ‘lady of the evening’ and it took months to evict while the ‘friends’ were visiting the property.  

  • Not all background reports are created equal.  You need an easy-to-read report which helps you get to the accuracy goal and avoid a huge mistake
  • It’s critical to compare the credit report header data to the applicant-supplied information on the application.  Do the employers match, the prior addresses?  Ask your applicant directly and firmly about any inconsistencies or items that are unclear
  • It goes without saying that to be accurate you should order the full credit report (not just a score), a criminal report, and eviction
  • Call the former landlords and employer and do your due diligence.  My favorite question to put on the application is “was your security deposit returned in full?” and then see if that matches the response from prior landlords.  Be sure to go to the current landlord and at least 1 prior (preferably 2) so you can get at the move-out process


  • Online Background Screening like Rent Marketplace
  • Verification Form – call prior landlords and employers, have a checklist and knock it out thoroughly

5.  Select and Move In!

OK, select your best candidate that meets your standards and share the good news.  

Be prepared with a good lease and some dates that you can review the lease together in detail.  Our online Lease Generator allows for customization, e-signature, and online document storage.  So you can handle this step remotely.

Go over your expectations and the lease step-by-step so you’re all on the same page.  Make no assumptions here.  

Decide on the move-in walk-through process and timing.  Don’t hand over any keys until move-in day.  



  • An interesting and free software that can help with inspections is MoveIn.Space/walkthrough
  • Your smartphone camera and/or video – store on YouTube, GoogleDocs, iCloud etc
  • A good move-in checklist.  Visit the Landlord Toolkit if you need one

In Closing

The 5 key tenant on-boarding steps, when done properly, can save you lots of time and money.  And, they can all be done well from a remote environment using modern technology like Rent Marketplace.  So now you can be a terrific landlord anytime, anywhere.  

Rent Marketplace helps independent landlords, property owners and local property managers save time and money with our integrated one-stop shop solution suite. With online applications, tenant screening, state-specific leases and more, users can move in better residents, faster.

For additional information on Rent Marketplace, please visit our site at www.RentMarketplace or call us at 888-973-0971.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.