This article was posted on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012

Qualifying prospective renters can seem especially challenging when you must establish their eligibility to rent based upon income.  While it is necessary to determine if callers and visitors can qualify to rent at your community, coming right out and asking someone for their annual income can be perceived as an invasion of privacy.  (Would you like a total stranger to ask:  How much money do YOU make?).
Recently, I was asked the following question on this subject:

Q:  We are a tax credit property with certain income restrictions, but not everyone who calls or stops by is aware of this.  I try to find out about monthly or annual income right away because I don’t want to waste their time or mine.  However, I am getting the impression that people are embarrassed or put off by my line of questioning.  What is the best way of figuring out if people are income-qualified without offending them?
A: Whether your community has income restrictions or not, every community has a set standard or policy for qualifying prospective renters based on their income.  Whether someone must make three times the monthly rental rate or make no more than a specific amount annually, everyone who applies to rent must qualify financially in some way.
As such, there is no need to treat anyone differently or label someone as unqualified.  ‘s all a matter of using effective communication so that everyone will understand what the criteria is to qualify at your community.
Rather than saying, ˜I need to know how much money you make, you could take another approach.  Perhaps after you have established a rapport with a phone caller or visitor, you could say something like this:  I need to let you know that our community has certain income restrictions based upon the number of people in your family.  For a household of four, your income may not exceed $32,000.  Does this work for your family?
By offering the qualifying criteria up front, you are helping each prospective renter make an informed decision about their ability to qualify at your community.  In addition, you are showing respect and consideration for their privacy, as well as preserving their dignity.  Would you want to be treated any differently if you were in their situation?

Reprinted with permission of Ask the Secret Shopper; provided by Shoptalk Service Evaluations.  For more information visit

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