Rental Application Process (Part 1 of 6): Overview - Rental Application Process - The Rental Application Form

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Rental Application Procedures

-Overview
-Rental Application Process
-The Rental Application Form

Overview

As a community manager, you will normally be charged with accepting or rejecting prospective residents. This is one of the most important functions that you will perform as a manager of a manufactured home community. Done properly and effectively, the rental application and screening process will minimize potential problems in landlord – resident relations. If the process is done incorrectly the seeds of future problems will be sown. Every prospective resident should be given sufficient information to make an informed decision about living in a manufactured home community.

When an individual stops by the manufactured home community office inquiring on the possibility of becoming a resident, always give them an application packet.

Anyone who is interested in applying should be given the application packet – inconsistency in giving out application packets could lead to claims by the resident selling the home, or a fair housing violation.

If yours is a family park, i.e. accepting all ages, avoid becoming engaged in discussions about the suitability of the community for children. Questions such as “Is the park ‘child friendly’ or similar inquiries, are too subjective to answer. Responding to similar questions, either in person or on the phone, regarding other protected class, e.g. race, religion, national origin, sexual preference (in some Oregon cities), etc., should be avoided. Remember, Fair Housing “testers” could be asking in order to see if you answer differently at different times. Simply inform prospective tenants that they may tour the park, speak with other residents, past and present, and make their own determination.

Include in the application packet an application and “Minimum Criteria Standards”, optional information may include what homes are available in the community, a community newsletter, information on the history of the community, the advantages of living in a manufactured home community etc. NOTE: ORS 90.680(5) requires the following:

“If a landlord requires a prospective purchaser to submit an application for occupancy as a tenant under subsection (4) of this section, at the time that the landlord gives the prospective purchaser an application the landlord shall also give the prospective purchaser copies of the statement of policy, the rental agreement and the facility rules and regulations, including any conditions imposed on a subsequent sale, all as provided by ORS 90.510. The terms of the statement, rental agreement and rules and regulations need not be the same as those in the selling tenant’s statement, rental agreement and rules and regulations.” (Emphasis added.)

ORS 90.680 covers the entire selling process. You should review the statute in its entirety.

Rental Application Process

The overall rental application process should include:

1. Review application to make sure it has been completely filled out. If not completed, it should be promptly returned to the applicant. Do not keep the application for several days and then return it to complete. Oregon law requires tenants give management not less than ten (10) days written notice before the sale of their home. If the tenant does so, then management has seven (7) days within which to accept or reject an applicant who has submitted a fully completed application. However, a longer period may be agreed upon between the manager and the applicant. Your MHCO application form permits you and the applicant to agree upon a longer time. If the current tenant has not given management the 10-day advance written notice of sale, then the manager has ten (10) days to accept or reject. WARNING: The failure to timely accept or reject means that the prospective tenant will be accepted on the same terms as contained in the selling tenant’s rental agreement. If you and an applicant agree upon an extension of time to process their paperwork, make sure that the agreement is in writing and signed.
2. Check to make sure that the applicant has included a valid social security number, driver license information etc. NOTE: To avoid claims of discrimination based upon race, country of origin or ethnicity, you must be consistent with all applicants. If you insist upon one applicant having a valid social security number, you must require it of all. Do not make exceptions. Remember: Fair Housing testers will be watching for inconsistency.
3. Provide the applicant with a copy of the Statement of Policy (keep a signed copy or receipt for your file), the rent history of the space, Rental Agreement/Lease, Park Rules & Regulations, RV Storage Agreement and Pet Agreement (if applicable). None of these are to be signed by you until they have been reviewed and accepted by you. The Statement of Policy statute is ORS 90.510. You should review it from time to time.
4. Collect application fee.
5. Provide prospective resident with application fee receipt.
6. Conduct credit, rental and criminal check.
7. Attach copies of credit, rental and criminal check to application.
8. If credit, rental and criminal checks are acceptable contact prospective resident.
9. If they are denied and they are purchasing an existing home in the park, send them an application denial form. Also, send a copy to the resident selling the home and one for the tenant’s file. NOTE: Make sure your existing residents understand that you are not required to accept prospective residents until they have successfully completed the application process and have been approved for residency.

The Rental Application Form

The Rental Application form provides the basic information needed to make a decision on accepting the applicant. As noted above, unless a longer time has been agreed upon in writing, current Oregon Law gives you either (a) up to seven (7) days from receipt of the application to accept or reject (if the tenant-seller gave you the required advance ten (10) days’ notice of sale) or (b) up to ten (10) days (if the tenant-seller did not give you the 10-day notice). Used properly, the rental application and personal interview will prove helpful in countering charges of discrimination in renting spaces. When completed, a rental application should reveal:

• Financial information
• Employment information
• Residence history
• Household members
• Social security number(s)
• Driver license number(s)
• Ownership or lien-holder of the unit
• Age, size and condition of the unit
• Information about motor vehicles
• Pets
• Age verification if the community is classified as 55 or older or 62 or older housing
• Credit references
• Emergency contacts
• Authorization to do credit and criminal checks
• Acknowledgement of receipt of disclosure documents

At the time the prospective tenant is given an application for residency, the manager or landlord must also provide the prospective tenant with copies of the Statement of Policy (with required exhibits), which includes the rent history of the space, the Rental Agreement and the Rules and Regulations and a map of the facility.

Have a receipt form to give to all persons to whom you have provided a Statement of Policy. Make sure that you receive and retain all signed receipts, as they are proof of delivery of the Statement of Policy. If the prospective resident is approved for occupancy, then put the signed receipt in their file together with their signed statement of policy. Retain copies of ALL receipts of delivery in a separate file, including those confirming delivery of the Statements of Policy to persons who did not return their applications or whose applications were rejected.

Take time to make sure the prospective resident is aware of the content of each of these documents. It will do the community or the resident little good to have the prospective resident move in without taking the time to read and understand the Statement of Policy, the rent history of the space, the Rental Agreement and the Rules and Regulations.