When you're a landlord trying to get a rent-paying tenant, you might feel like you're on a face against the clock. You need to be able to pay that mortgage, so it's important to get a tenant in fast who will start paying rent.
But not every candidate will be be the right fit for your property, and if you don't do your due diligence, then you might end up with a tenant who trashes your property, pays rent late or skips out before the end of the lease. It's not enough just to have a warm body in your property. You need to find good tenants who will treat your property well and pay rent on time.
Not sure how to vet the tenants? Here are our best tips for landing the perfect tenant.
Be strategic in your advertising
Just listing your property on your personal website won't be enough to get the word out to tenant. You need to go where they are and get your property in front of them.
You do, however, need to be strategic in how and where you are advertising your property. If you're trying to reach students, for example, then you'll want to include information in your listing that is relevant to them. Is your property near a university? How about public transportation? Young working professionals like to be near nightlife and public transportation, and families prefer parks, playgrounds and good school systems. Think about who your ideal tenant is and then write a listing that would address their needs. Take lots of photos of your space to show it off to prospective tenants and get them excited.
You can also use the listing to let tenants know about certain rules in your lease. For example, you should make it clear in your listing if you allow pets and, if so, any pet restrictions. If the tenant will be in charge of some basic upkeep, such as mowing the lawn, make sure that is stated. This will help root out some applicants and save you some time.
It's not enough to let your property post languish on your personal website or as a post on your personal Facebook page. You need to get the word out. Ads on social media have great reach and can be highly targeted to fit your intended tenant. Real estate sites like Zillow and Redfin also list rental properties available, so don't forget to add your property to the mix.
Create a long application
Want to know one of the easiest ways to vet clients? Create a long rental application that leaves no question unanswered.
Having a long application will instantly root out tenants who don't intend to put in a lot of effort to your property or who don't fit your preferred profile. Most likely, they won't be able to fill in all of the information or they will feel that they didn't like your property enough from the listing and photos to dedicate the time to the application. Either way, you save time by not showing your property to someone who probably wouldn't be a good fit.
Make sure your application includes:
- Full name and current address
- Current occupation
- Job history
- Previous rental history
- At least three references (at least one coming from an employer or volunteer coordinator
Keep in mind that you do need to create an application based on who you want to rent to in the first place. If you're renting to students, then asking for an employment or rental history won't do you much good. This is probably their first rental application, and while your applicants may list jobs, they're probably fast-food or school-related positions. Instead, ask for information related to their studies, extracurriculars and volunteer work.
Ask questions on the tour
The worst thing you can do when showing your prospective tenants around the property is to clam up or wait outside while they tour the unit themselves. This is a key moment to get a little face-to-face time with your potential tenant, so you shouldn't waste it by standing outside or waiting in your car. Walk through the property with your tenants and show them right away how things work.
While you're showing off your property, you should be asking some basic questions. Some will probably be repeated on the rental application, but this is another opportunity to have the tenant elaborate on those answers.
Be sure to ask:
- When do you plan to move in?
- How many people will be living in the home?
- Where are you living now?
- Why are you leaving that your current home?
- Are you currently employed?
- How long have you been at your current job?
- Do you have any pets?
- Do you smoke?
Feel free to ask follow-up questions as well. The more you know about your prospective tenant, the better chance you'll have of finding just the right person to liv in your property.
Check all references
So you've just shown your property to a great tenant who completed your long application and answered all of your questions on the tour. They seem like a perfect fit, so now all you have to do is just send over the lease, right?
As a landlord, you need to do one final checkup to make sure that everything your tenant told you was accurate, and that means you have to call the references listed. If your tenant was honest, then these should be quick and easy calls. If not, then you've done yourself a huge favor by not renting to this person. Before you call, Google the name of the employer or the property company that manages their current residence just to verify that these places actually exist.
All of this might sound overwhelming to you as a landlord, but if you have a boutique property management company like Atlas Lane by your side, all of this work can be done for you. We're experts in finding and vetting great tenants, and we do all of this work to ensure that your tenants feel comfortable in your property and you receive your rent on time.
Ready to get started with Atlas Lane? Find out more about what you can expect as an owner from our company.