If you’re new to being a landlord, choosing your tenants is about the most critical thing you can do. And if you’re seasoned, you know just how true this is! These folks will be living in and taking care of what’s likely your biggest investment — for several months, a year or more. Here are the key things you can do to draw better tenants to you, and identify them amid the applicants.
Listing and Pricing
- First things first – put out the best listing you can, with great pictures, using all that modern technology offers, like 360 degree room views or a virtual tour. Find a plethora of tips in our blog posts like How to Write a Great Description, Six Listing Photos Renters Need to See and by scrolling through our library of posts on the topic.
- Show the property sparkling clean and in good repair. Great tenants have the ability to choose, and can pass up applying for your property if it doesn’t look great. That is good news, as it means they are likely to have those same standards and keep your property in great shape! If you have tenants currently living on your property, and they don’t have it as clean as you’d like, you may offer to hire a cleaner for the corners, under appliances etc. during your prime showing months to make it easier for them to do surface cleaning. This is true for the garage and the lawn too. Read our posts: Five Steps to Organizing Your Garage and Easy Ways to Improve Curb Appeal.
- Price your rental just below the market rate. Even $20 a month lower than the competition will bring more people to you.
Assessing the Applicants
Check references. If you’ve met the applicants and like them, this can be easy to skip. But you really do yourself a disservice. A good start is to ask for a rental or housing reference and check with a previous landlord.
Long Distance Inquiries
With so many military families trying to confirm housing before they arrive at a new duty station, you could find yourselves working with long distance potential tenants. How you handle the process from initial inquiry to signing the lease/contract will have a tremendous impact. For the long distance home searcher, the ability to create a smooth exchange of information is particularly invaluable! Know what information you consistently need to convey to potential tenants/home buyers and keep those documents and files easily accessible via a file sharing service like Dropbox.
Verify the applicant’s employment. For military potential tenants, you can request a copy of their orders which will provide verification of their rank and assignment to the duty station serving your community. You can find the income that corresponds with your potential tenant’s rank on this DoD chart. Any working spouses or other adults living in the home may also provide a paystub to increase the total household income.
Do a background check as well as running a credit report. It’s worth the few minutes and dollars it takes to get this piece of the puzzle. Check out SmartMove to see if it appeals to you as a way to do both.
TIP: While you may want to become friendly with your tenants, be aware that you do need to handle this as a business – and all transactions should be conducted as such. If something unexpected happens, you want to know you preserved the right balance in that relationship to take care of things professionally – for both your sake and your tenant’s.
Whether you have one property or a few, facing an empty place for the season or weeks and even months can be scary. But just taking anyone can result in far more money lost – to lawyers, repairing damaged property – and losing more time and money during all that. Bear in mind, you can do everything right and still get a troublesome tenant. But your chances of that are greatly reduced by employing our tips above.
Great tenants make being a landlord or property manager worth every step to find them!
Rochelle Joseph is a Writer and Image and Marketing Consultant who has had experience marketing, renting, buying and selling her properties for over 20 years. She has written and edited for several publications, including the Boston Book Review, The Emerson Review, ZooBorns.com, WildLife Magazine, the Houston Zoo, The Wildlife Center of Texas, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as well as AHRN.com. She currently writes at her great gifts blog at Looky Here You and her animal blog at Naturegirrrl.