Everyone knows managers must strive for objectivity when approving and denying applicants but few have wrestled through the process of putting it in writing. One mistake when pulling personal information, passing it around, viewing it, scanning/copying to the wrong person and storing customer's private information can ruin a property manager’s career.
Over the years we developed the details of how to treat all applicants the same to reduce the chances of a claim of discrimination. We call it Qualifying Guidelines and it is available to our students along with several other tools to qualify applicants objectively and safely. In 35 years (processing over 20,000 applications) we never had a fair housing claim as we consistently applied these written guidelines to all applicants, the same way, every time. These qualifying guidelines are the result of 35 years of perfecting the process.
About the Author: Robert Locke has been an expert witness in cases in Atlanta where managers were defending claims from applicants for discrimination. When testifying as an expert witness he was required to really dig down into the details of what HUD expected to be objective in the qualifying process. Defending yourself is expensive and time-consuming so don’t take this lightly.
The document is positioned to be helpful to both neophyte and experienced property managers. My staff and I really like the distinction between “conforming” and “non-conforming” applicants, and clear guidelines for processing both. They will know when to escalate to broker, when not to escalate to broker, and when they do escalate they will very likely have a solution taken from the non-conforming applicant guidelines which I can simply rubber-stamp.
Here’s What You Can Download
This act lays out the requirements for anyone pulling credit and other private information. This is the law everyone must follow when viewing, transmitting and storing applicant’s personal information including owners and property managers. Fines for violations of this act are $37,500 per event so the FTC is serious about compliance and claims of “I didn’t know” won’t save you.
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We took the entire act updated May 2016 and condensed it in attempt to address the issues pertaining to property managers gathering data on tenant applicants and added training notes, underlined specific words and bolded some critical language so you can read the law and our thoughts as to how the law plays out in the actual day-to-day practice of qualifying applicants for rentals. This is more of a training document for you and your staff to review yearly to refresh yourself (or train your new folks) as to the seriousness of the law and the practical implications of it.
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This is a 30 page manual we developed over 35 years that guided us through a lawsuit-free experience in processing our applicants. Most of this was done ‘in-house’ as the tenant screening services (TSS) available were not practicing during most of our years so there was no one to pass this off to. We had to learn how to do it and so do you.
This document guided our managers to treat all applicants properly as it related to credit scores, secondary income streams, trust babies, no employment, retired applicants, applicants without green cards, foreign nationals, roommates, foreclosures, special needs occupants, spouses with bankruptcies, 3rd-party signers, corporate leases, comfort pets and more. The manual is full of training notes and can be used to train your staff how to do it right and avoid expensive learning curves we’ve already paid for. It can be tweaked to your model and then shrunk down for your staff to use day-to-day as they manage the application process.
Some won’t (or don’t want to) spend the money to get all the tools and training in this manual so we’re offering a shrunk-down version. If you want a basic framework for setting qualifying guidelines, a place to start is this shorter version of the full manual that provides a leg-up on the process. With this document you’ll be able to develop your own set of guidelines over time. This document (and training notes) will lay out what each credit score will require for approval, plus a chart laying out who should be managing the process for each category of applicant. You can use this do-it-yourself version and work through your own learning curves over time.
(this is a stand-alone document and Not Part Of the Package because #3 covers the same information in greater detail.)
When you deny someone or change the offer (like requiring an additional security deposit) you MUST send this official notification disclosing the source of the information used to make your decision. This is required every time you deny an application or change the terms of your approval. We’ll give you several examples and training notes for completing one.
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Property managers often collaborate with the owner on approving and denying applications and need to make sure they don’t violate the tenant’s rights of privacy, or the Fair Credit Reporting Act, when doing so. Owners often bully new managers into thinking that they, the owner, require the tenant’s information so they can make a fully informed approval or denial decision. It is quite natural for owners to think they are in control and if the manager caves in and passes the tenants information to the owner, they could find themselves in serious trouble with the law. Owners are not accustomed to hearing real estate agents tell them “no” and often push hard to get the tenant’s information and remain in control. If you want to keep your license, keep from having a claim from the Federal Trade Commission (the enforcers of the Fair Credit Reporting Act) and spend lots of money in attorney fees defending yourself, you’ll learn to tactfully refuse the owner and do the job they hired you for, which includes keeping them out of trouble with the law.
No matter what your model, there are some important rules you must follow when presenting applications to the owner. There is certain information you should never share with the owner under any conditions and some things you don’t want to miss passing over to them. Knowing the difference is the topic of this package. We’ll answer the question what’s the safe way to satisfy the owner’s appetite for information, without exposing yourself (and them) to violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, HUD, Americans with Disabilities Act, Service members Civil Relief Act and a host of other laws that govern the handling of the applicant’s personal information.
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Bought separately the price totals $506.00. Bought as a Package (items 1, 2, 3a, 4, 5) it’s $404.80 We do take installments.
(Video & Audio training is in the works. Not included is 3 b since it briefly covers what 3 a covers in much greater detail.)(Subscribers get an additional 20% off)
A two hour training video where we talk through the guidelines as they are laid out in the manual. In this studio shot training video we work through the full version of the qualifying guidelines one topic at a time. It’s important that any staff you’re training for this process hear the details at least once. When your staff qualifies applicants they need to be properly trained so you are protected from fair housing claims. Real Estate commissioners, owners and HUD love to see that you constantly train on this process.
This part of the product is still in process. Coming Soon!
Reviews & Testimonies
“I downloaded Crown’s Qualifying Guidelines and within a couple of days we had one that worked perfectly for our model. I knew I needed one but didn’t exactly know how to go about crafting it. Robert made it really easy and now I have a set of guidelines that’s just right for my operation."