Myth # 15

A smart property manager would approve an application to rent from their real estate commissioner. Right?

Question: Who in their right mind would deny the real estate commissioner's application to rent?

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Greetings my name is Robert Locke and we are going through a series of myths on property management. A myth is something that people commonly believe, but once you ferret it out, and tease it out, you find it might not really be true. So the one we're going to talk a little bit about today is this Myth # 15 which goes like this: A smart property manager will approve an application to rent from their real estate commissioner . . . Right?

Well, in 2005 I got a telephone message on a Sunday afternoon. I listened to the message and it was from a friend of ours. The real estate commissioner of Georgia, Jeff Ledford had called and left a message. Of course, when you get a message from the real estate commissioner on a Sunday afternoon there's only one right thing to do right? I immediatley called him back! Jeff shared with me that he had gotten engaged and that they were looking for a house.

They had made an application on one of the houses that we had in our inventory. My knee-jerk response was to say, "well Dr. Ledford, you're approved!"

But, I couldn't do that, of course. He asked me if I would check on his application on Monday morning and see how it went. So Monday morning I found the property manager who was processing applications on that particular property and here's the story I was given.

That previous Friday we had another tenant come in to make application. We vetted him over the weekend. They had ok credit, not great credit, but good enough, and at 9 AM that Monday we had sent out an official notice of approval to that applicant. The prospective tenant hadn't signed the lease or sent it back to us, but we made an offer to that applicant and we were waiting a response.

Now Jeff Ledford's credit was much, much better. Renting to the commissioner would be a great story in a classroom someday; to be able to say that a Georgia real estate commissioner was renting from Crown Realty and Management. I would love to have been able to say that, but we ultimately turned down Jeff's appication. Not because he wasn't qualified of course, but because our policy and procedures manual and our qualifying guidelines, stipulated that once we've sent an official notice of acceptance to an applicant, unless they completely ignore it, then we are locked in even though a better application might have come in.

And so, we had to tell Jeff Ledford that somebody else got the house having applied for it on Friday.

To be honest, he didn't like that answer, but he understood that we had qualifying guidelines and we had policies in place whch we were going to follow, even when it meant turning down the real estate commissioner.

Now qualifying guidelines will keep you out of trouble, from making decisions maybe contrary to good policy. We could have gotten in trouble on a fair housing claim of some kind from that initial applicant if we had denied him after already approving him.

I didn't like turning down the commissioner, but I hope he respected us for following procedures. Anyway, I would love to have told the story that the newley married Georgia Real Estate Commissioner rented from us, but it didn't work that way.

If you have a good set of qualifying guidelines, and you follow them to the letter and in the same way everytime, it'll keep you from making bad decisions about the approval and denial process, protecting you from that possibility of a fair housing claim.

We processed about 15,000 applications during our 35 years and we never had one fair housing claim. So the moral of the story is twofold. First, look for messages on your phone over the weekend! Second, turn people down when your policy requires it, no matter who they are.

Well, thanks for listening. We appreciate the time you spent with us today.

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