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Finding Great Tenants for Your Rentals

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While it may seem like one of life’s greatest mysteries, finding a great tenant isn’t too hard –as long as you know what you’re doing, that is. 

When it comes to sourcing –and keeping great tenants longer, there’s a lot that’s in your hands. True, sometimes a tenant will move on due to employment, or needing more space, or factors that are beyond your control –but often, by doing what you can to run a tight ship, and working to keep your tenants happy, you can keep those good tenants longer, encouraging them to renew their lease when the time comes. Likewise, when there is a vacancy, there’s a lot that you can do to help fill it as quickly as possible, keeping your vacancy rates low, and your property cash flowing. 

With this in mind, here are some things that you can do to find your next qualified tenant –quickly and efficiently. We’ll also look at some ways to improve tenant satisfaction, helping to keep your tenant turnover rates low.

Price Your Rental Competitively

One of the most common reasons that properties sit vacant for longer than they should is because they’re priced too high. Pricing your rental competitively will attract more interest and help your property to rent faster. When setting the rent, remember: You don’t set the rent, the market does. Your job is to figure out what the market rate is for rent. Take a look at websites like Zillow and Trulia to see what other, similar properties in your neighborhood are renting for, and then price yours accordingly. 

Know How to Advertise 

Advertising your property means getting it in front of as many people as possible, giving you a wider pool of applicants to choose from, and helping it to rent faster. With this in mind, here are some tips for marketing your property to help it command attention.

  • Create a Detailed Description 

Provide as much information as possible in your listing. The more detailed and relevant the listing, the better able you’ll be to “pre-screen” applicants. 

Include details such as the location, a floorplan, the size of the unit, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and, of course, the monthly rent. You should also include features or amenities that will help your property to stand out.  

  • Include Plenty of High-Quality Images

Images, and ideally, a video are a great way to show prospective tenants what they’re in for. Look to take high-quality images that showcase your property in the best possible light. By taking clear photos, your tenants will be able to assess whether or not the property’s a great fit in the first place, saving you from having to field phone calls from applicants who end up deciding that it’s not right for them.

With a video tour, you’ll be able to cut down on showings that you’ll need to do. Most prospects will still want to see the property in person before committing to renting it, but a video tour is a great first step that will give them an idea of whether they want to continue to pursue your property.

  • Include Requirements 

Including your requirements on the listing is another good way to help pre-screen potential applicants. Be sure to include how long of a lease you’re offering, how much the security deposit will be, and of course, the price. Mention that you will be running employment and income verification checks as part of the application process. This can deter some individuals from calling. You don’t have to provide every last detail, but having the requirements clearly stated will help applicants to tell, at a glance, whether your property is an option for them. 

  • Include Your Contact Info

It may sound basic, but some landlords end up leaving out crucial contact details by mistake, so double-check that you’ve included your email or phone number in the ad.

Screen Applicants Diligently

The best way to ensure that you get qualified tenants in your rental is by implementing an airtight screening process.

When it comes to tenant screening, it’s important to ensure that you implement a process that’s both thorough, and falls inside of the Fair Housing Act guidelines. These guidelines state that a landlord cannot discriminate on the basis of: race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (number of children), and disability. 

As a landlord, it’s best to avoid any questions that could be considered discriminatory or inappropriate. Remember: your goal with screening is to ensure that the tenant will be able to pay the rent and abide by the terms of the lease. Anything else is irrelevant. 

Here are a few things you’ll want to include as part of your screening process. 

  • Background and Credit Checks 

First up, take a look at the average credit score for your area. Nationally, the average credit score in 2019 was 703. Anything below 650 is considered poor. Make sure all of the applicants have a credit score that falls within a reasonable bracket. Too low, and you’re taking on unnecessary risk.

Running a background and credit check is an important step in verifying that your tenants will be able to commit to making their monthly rent. There are a number of tools that are available online that can help, including SmartMove by TransUnion. 

  • Employment Checks

Next, you’ll want to call their place of employment to verify their employment, and to make sure they earn three times the monthly rent. If not, then consider asking for proof of savings, or better yet, requiring that they have a co-signer who does meet the income requirements.

  • Their Rental History

It’s also important to verify a tenant’s rental history. While not every landlord will be open about their previous tenants, some will be more than happy to help, and it’s always worth following up on this step. Avoid renting to tenants who have a history of unpaid rent or eviction.

Note: Make sure your screening policies are fair. All prospective tenants should be subject to screening, so you’re not guilty of discrimination. 

Improve Your Tenant Retention Rates

Finally, once you’ve found a tenant who pays the rent on time and follows the terms of the lease, then you’ll want to keep them happy, and renting from you longer. Not only will this make your property more profitable, it’ll make the entire process less stressful for you as well.

With this in mind, here are a few ways that you can keep your tenants longer, keeping your vacancy rates down.  

  • Treat Your Tenants Right

Treating your tenants fairly and conducting yourself in a professional manner costs nothing, but can go a long way toward boosting tenant satisfaction –meaning they’ll be more likely to renew their lease with you when the time comes.

See: 10 Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Tenants

  • Respond Promptly 

Always respond to all tenant requests in a reasonable timeframe. This means giving them a way to contact you, including an emergency line that they can call outside of regular business hours. Once a repairs request has been submitted, it’s important to address the issue promptly and keep your tenants in the loop about what’s happening. If there’s a delay, communicate that with them too so they know what to expect. Instead of keeping them in the dark, being proactive shows tenants that you’re taking their concerns seriously.

  • Perform Regular Maintenance

Keeping up with routine maintenance at your rental is crucial. This will help to prevent small issues from escalating, leading to more costly repairs. Additionally, with regular maintenance, you’ll be setting a precedent for your tenants to follow. A clean, updated property that’s in good condition shows that you care about the property, and expect it to be kept in good shape. This will help you to attract tenants who also care about the condition it’s in, and who will be more likely to treat it right. 

See: Essential Fall Maintenance for Every Rental

  • Do the Occasional Upgrade

One way to help keep your tenants happy is by doing the occasional upgrade. Some fresh landscaping, in the form of low-maintenance shrubs or trees can help to beautify the exterior, helping your tenants to take pride in their home as well. The occasional fresh coat of paint can also help to keep your property looking new. Upgrading worn out or aging appliances and fixtures can also help to keep your tenants happy and renting from you longer.

Consider Hiring a Property Manager 

If all of the above sounds like a great deal of work, that’s because it can be –at least when you’re first starting out. But the good news is that it’s one of those things that gets much easier in time. Good tenants rarely “just happen.” Nearly always, it’s the result of diligent tenant sourcing and screening.

Of course, if you’d like to outsource some of the work, the good news is that help is available. Hiring a property manager allows you to offload the tenant screening process –along with the day-to-day general rental management tasks, helping you to keep your properties rented, without any of the stress that’s often involved. 

With the above steps, you’ll be able to find (and retain) great tenants at your properties; helping you to rent out your properties faster, lower your vacancy rates, and keep downtime to a minimum. All the best in your search for qualified applicants!

Landlords: are you looking to fill a vacancy? At Renters Warehouse, we can help. We have an average tenant placement time of just 17 days –and can help you to price your rental competitively, to keep your vacancy rates low. Use our FREE rental price analysis to get started, and see what your property could be renting for.

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