Joining me for this episode is Jason Waggoner, the Vice President of Marketing at ACUTRAQ. In case you aren’t familiar with it, ACUTRAQ is an application screening company that covers various types of screening.
As a result of this work, Jason is full of deep and detailed knowledge on just about every aspect of the application and screening process, dealing with HUD, dealing with fair housing, and all other related aspects of the application cycle. In this conversation, he shares that knowledge and offers great insight into these topics and more.
An example of what Jason has to offer is his balanced perspective on how to handle negative factors on an application, such as a low credit score or a criminal history. In both cases, he advises a personal rather than a kneejerk approach. For example, a potentially ideal tenant may have a low credit score simply due to medical bills, and have a perfect track record with every other bill and rent. Similarly, someone may have a criminal history for a minor crime such as marijuana possession a decade ago, in which case that alone may not indicate anything about how they would be as a tenant today.
With that said, he’s well aware of the risk factors involved for landlords. He suggests being very detailed and open with your screening criteria for reasons that he explains in the episode. When it comes to adverse action letters, he offers great advice such as denying for credit delinquencies instead of credit score.
Many of these subjects have been touchy hot-topics in the NARPM community lately, so let’s take a listen and hear what Jason has to say!
[02:01] - Jason gives us an introduction to who he is and the company he works for, as well as the types of screenings the company is able to cover.
[04:22] - When you’re qualifying tenants, many people want to go by their gut feeling without understanding what they’re doing.
[05:05] - Brad offers a story related to what Jason has been saying. He explains that his director of leasing encountered a “property manager” who approves applicants depending on how they feel about them. Jason then explains when it really set in for him that your gut feeling isn’t a reliable standard.
[07:52] - Jason discusses the intricacies of the screening side of the application process. Hot topics include animals, felons, and decisions based on credit scores. He also emphasizes the importance of posting your screening criteria publicly so that unqualified applicants won’t waste their (or your) time.
[10:54] - Brad and Jason discuss the difficult process of declining applicants. Jason emphasizes the importance of making sure you’re doing everything by the book, because tenants know their rights and you can get in trouble if you don’t do things properly. He gives an example involving a service dog.
[14:59] - Brad points out that some DIY or home-based landlords forget why they hire management companies.
[15:33] - Jason goes into more detail about the adverse action letter.
[17:50] Brad brings up the topic of risk mitigation. Jason responds by discussing the necessity of digging deeper into a low credit score and giving people an opportunity. He and Brad then discuss how to do this.
[21:21] - We return to the topic of owners, who could be missing out on a great tenant because they denied someone based on a low credit score when they’re ideal in other ways.
[22:36] - Brad and Jason talk about another hot topic: felons. HUD is now saying that it’s important to look at the criminal history in more depth rather than just immediately reacting to it.
[25:15] - HUD is not trying to make criminals a protected class, Jason clarifies.
[26:16] - Jason returns from the pain point to the solution, which goes back to being clear about your intention to screen criminal history and saying “your criminal history may be cause for denial” upfront.
[28:15] - Brad brings up the business side of this, explaining briefly what ACUTRAQ is. Jason then talks about the popularity and benefits of outsourcing.
[31:58] - Is the application process integrated into a client’s potential website? After answering, Jason explains one of the things that sets ACUTRAQ apart from other companies, which is their personal touch.
[34:49] - Jason talks us through the services he goes through once an application comes in.
[38:09] - Jason offers an example of trying to establish someone’s criminal history when he or she may have had different names (due to marriages, nicknames, and so on).
[40:12] - We hear about some of what Jason is doing, including his involvement in the music scene and how the knowledge he got from that industry led to his creation of his music video, the Bad Tenant Blues.
Links and Resources: