Starting a tenancy

How to Turn Down a Tenant Application

Rejection stinks. It is no fun to be rejected, and it's not much better to give a rejection. Unfortunately, if you have more than one application for your rental property (and hopefully there are several), someone will have to miss out.

We tend to focus on selecting the right tenants, so we forget the effort that a tenant puts into making a good application. As the owner, it is up to you to get the best tenants you can, even if you have to break someone’s heart.


Ignoring a Rejected Tenant Application can Lead to Trouble

Rather than facing those you don’t want living in your property, some agents choose to ignore the tenants which they cannot accept. That is not good enough. Especially when you consider that coming out for an inspection and completing a tenant application requires a good deal of effort. Some prospective tenants take it as a personal insult when their application is not accepted.

Personally informing the tenants that you are forced to turn them down shows a lot of class and its actually very simple if you know how. The trick is to get it done quickly with little fuss. Let me show you how…

Change the Heading in your Ad to UNDER APPLICATION

The most important reason for this step is to save you from getting calls for a house that is essentially off the market. Yes, removing your ad does the same thing, but UNDER APPLICATION keeps the ad active in case your tenant falls through at the last minute.

However, it does not save you from those disturbing calls from applicants who have not seen the updated ad. The best way to avoid that is to beat them to it!

Get in First and Make the Call

Contacting applicants before they contact you is a magical tactic. The magic is that they are not prepared for the encounter, but you are. This gives you the opportunity to be direct and to the point (but not short or rude, obviously). Then you can get off the phone before they have time to think it through enough to ask questions.

Here’s a basic script I’ve used to get in and get out quick. Let's pretend the tenants name is Hannah.

“Michael: Hi Hannah, its Michael, how are you?

Hannah: Hey Michael, great how are you?

Michael: Not to bad thank you, I’ve been really busy with all the applications.

I just wanted to let you know that unfortunately you have not been accepted for the property.

We had quite a few applications and they were all really good. However, do you mind if I call you back if the application falls through?

Hannah: Yes please thank you.

Michael: Thanks for your understanding Hannah. Good luck. Bye.”

Sometimes the unsuccessful applicant will be on their toes enough to question why you did not accept them before you say “Thanks for your understanding”. Have a good answer ready: “To be honest there was no particular reason, it was very close even after we went through all the applications”.

My friend Rhonda has a slick solution when she has someone asking why their tenant application was not accepted. She says that there were a lot of great applicants, but in the end her husband had to make a decision!

The Easy Way Out

The problem with calling is that you cannot really script the call; they always go differently than expected. However, an email always goes according to the script. If you send the email out in bulk to all your applicants, be sure to use the “bcc” (email sender option) so the applicants do not see each other's email addresses.

Here is a sample format for your email:


Thank you for taking the time to apply for my property at 123 StreetName Drive.

After carefully reviewing all the applications, I am sorry to inform you that we have decided to go with another application. Your application was very much appreciated, and if the approved application falls through I hope you don’t mind if I get in contact with you.

Thanks again for your application and good luck in your search.

All the best,

Rules to Remember

  • Even if you have a specific reason to reject an application, do not reveal it. You will just open a can of worms.
  • Keep your contact short and sweet.
  • Get in first and don’t give them an opportunity to come back asking questions.

The more applications you have, the better chance you have of selecting the best tenant.

Find and secure your next tenant 10x faster

Find and secure your next tenant 10x faster

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