Landlords will be advised to not give a reason when rejecting applicants. There’s no reason to give them an opening to argue.

But there is another good reason. Every time they are rejected and given a reason, they change their story and lie about that reason.

I had a woman call me a month ago. She had a 6 month old puppy house dog, she only wanted a place for the winter, and she didn’t have any deposit money. (I take dogs but not puppies)

That same woman just called me today on a different vacancy. The puppy is now “12 months” old and an outdoor only dog. She is planning on staying permanently, and her sons are going to help her on the deposit money, so she is sure we can “work something out”

Too bad for her I talked to her before. I know she has a puppy. I know she owns her own house that she is going back to in the spring, and I know she has no job and no deposit. But she has been rejected for those reasons and now she is lying.

Some beginner landlord is going to take her with “payments” on the deposit, chewing digging puppy and all. Because the rest of the landlords in this area have taught her what lies she needs to tell.

Just reject them. Don’t give them any more ammunition to use against the next landlord.

All real estate is local. I used to do exactly what you say and never give them a reason. If you do they have an answer about why it is still ok to overlook your reason. But in Texas the legislature has passed a new law effective September this year. You have to give the applicant the reasons that you will reject them before you take their application. For example I have to tell them I will reject you for an income below $30,000/year, less that 1 year on the job credit with 90 days late or more than 3-30 day lates, no drug or violent convections on evictions or suits from their landlords or against landlords information on the application not verifiable.

i’m in SC - I think in most states you have to give them a reason why you are rejecting thier application.

it often helps if you use the story - I don’t own the property I just work for the owner. The owner has rejected you for these reason (fill in blank).
then say
No he will not allow me to give out his phone number - thats why he hired me - so he would not have to deal with day to day property management and phone calls

What about pre-screening them before you even meet them to show the property or giving them an application? If you can get their name, date of birth, etc., you can do some preliminary online screening. Of course, their information isn’t verified until you meet them in person, but if you quickly find out they have violent felony convictions or a string of evictions you simply don’t call them back. If they call you back, you could simply point out the problematic issues that are public information. You’re not “rejecting” them because you’ve never even met them or accepted an application from them. Granted, this is simplistic but it’s a preliminary vetting process that can weed out some problems before wasting time or effort. Thoughts?

I would treat all applicants the same and collect an application from anyone who wants to submit one. You run the risk of fair housing problems if you encourage or steer people away from your rentals because of the pre-screen. Not returning calls has been used as reason to investigate a LL. Some LLs refuse to return calls from people with accents. With a fully completed application, you have proof of a valid rejection. Without one, it becomes a he said/she said situation, which you are likely to lose given the bias in the fair housing and anti-discrimination boards. It is different if you describe your screening criteria and they do not wish to submit an application. Bottom line is give an application to anyone who wants it.

To save time and money, I do my free screening methods first and then move to paid methods like a credit check. I stop whenever I find a reason to reject and note it on the application. If the information for rejection comes from a credit check, I send the fair credit act letter. Otherwise, they get nothing. I am also very clear with applicants that they will hear from me with 48 hours if they approved. Otherwise, they will not.

What about pre-screening them before you even meet them to show the property or giving them an application?

I pre-screen all applicants on the phone before I ever meet with them. I tell them our screening criteria and then ask them if they meet each one. For example, we don’t take anyone that has had a felony within the past 5 years. I directly ask them if they’ve had a felony in the past 5 years. If the answer is yes, we’re done and I don’t have to meet the criminal!


We have a great online resource here with the Oklahoma State Courts Network ( In a matter of seconds, anyone can access criminal charges in state courts, evictions, and all sorts of other interesting court docket information.

I’m not going to waste my time meeting, showing properties, and gathering applications from prospective tenants I already know I don’t want.