If you own any rental properties, you will want to read this article on how to get quality tenants for your rental properties…
I have asked Eric over at Rent Prep to share some tips for anyone looking to rent a home on how they can attract the best renters…
Mark was nice enough to let me guest post on his blog and I’d like to stick with the theme of the ugly but honest truth.
In my industry, the ugly but honest truth is that most people don’t screen their tenants properly. I work at RentPrep.com which is a tenant background checks service for landlords. In this post we’ll talk about strategies for finding a quality tenant.
It all starts with your selection pool.
Deepen Your Pool Of Applicants
A common mistake many landlords and property managers make is that they don’t advertise their rentals in enough areas.
They get stuck in the trap of thinking craigslist doesn’t work, or Facebook won’t work so they just post to one service and call it a day.
This is a mistake, because if you don’t create a large enough selection pool of applicants, you’re going to have a hard time finding a good tenant.
You don’t want to pick the least worst applicant between two people. You want to pick the best tenant from 10 or more quality applicants.
You do this by advertising in more places and making sure you have great pictures.
Three Quick Photo Tips
#1 – Never shoot towards light, have natural light coming in from behind you
#2 – Stage your shots to make them look warm and inviting
#3 – Try adding frameline magnetism to your shots
Frameline magnetism is a technique where you intentionally don’t show the edges of the scene. Here’s an example I’ve pulled from our free tenant screening course.
Both of the photos above are pictures of a kitchen. In the image to the left, you have a pretty good idea of how large the kitchen is. In the image on the right, your imagination has to fill in the edges of the kitchen. Let your viewers imagination fill in the edges of the room.
Good photos combined with plenty of listings will get you a good response if your prices are fair market value.
Begin The Screening Process
Know before you show!
If you have 40 people interested you’re not going to show the rental 40 times.
You want to set up times to discuss and ask questions before they look at the rental. A helpful tool I’d recommend for setting up these appointments is https://calendly.com/. You can enter your availability and they can pick a time to chat. This will eliminate random phone calls and phone tag (to some degree).
When you get them on the phone be sure to ask why they’re interested in the rental. Make them aware of your screening criteria such as smoking policy, rent to income ratio, pet policy, and let them know you run a background check.
Some of these standards (even if they’re listed in your online listings) will immediately weed out some applicants.
Let’s say your standards and questions reduce your list down to 15 people. Now it’s time to show them the rental.
Showing The Rental
A lot of landlords are split on how they show their rentals. Some like individual appointments while others do an open house. Some will even do an open house but with 10 minute scheduled blocks to do a walkthrough.
Whatever you decide be sure to have a stack of rental applications on hand. Also, try and write notes on each applicant.
If you schedule an appointment did they show up on time?
Did they drag mud into the rental?
Did they seem to knitpick issues with the rental through the walkthrough?
One tip that a lot of landlords swear by is to walk them out to their car and see how clean it is. How they treat your car is a good sign of how they will treat your rental.
Call Tenant References
This isn’t something every landlord does but it’s important to call the following references from the application.
- Current and previous landlord
- Current employer
- Personal references
Here’s a guide on exactly what to say in these tenant verification calls.
Now you might be thinking that the personal reference calls are a waste of time. I wouldn’t recommend asking what they think of the applicant but verify the contact information.
If you ever have an emergency or an issue down the road it’s good to have information on their references.
Run A Background Check
If you ask your landlord friend if they run background checks they might say no. It’s uncomfortable and it is not a policy followed by every landlord.
Now… go to a landlord association and ask if anyone’s had an eviction and if that person runs a background check. These are the people who will tell you they do background checks because they’re not dealing with that headache again. Experienced landlords run background checks.
When running a background check I’ll give you three tips:
- Make sure you have proper written authorization from the rental app to run a check
- Only choose a service that offers nationwide evictions
- If the service provides instant results it means instant data pulls
Get Written Authorization
As far as written authorization, just make sure the rental application has a section where the applicant is signing to give authorization to run a background check. If you don’t have a signature you can’t legally run a background check.
Evictions Are Telling
As far as evictions go, let’s pretend Bert and Ernie are applying separately to your rental. All data and factors are identical except Bert has a reportable eviction (meaning it’s happened within the last seven years) and Ernie does not. In this scenario Bert is nearly three times more likely to go through another eviction compared to Ernie.
Evictions on record are extremely telling indicators of a high risk tenant. If you’re looking at a screening service make sure they offer nationwide eviction searches.
Instant services (ones that boast instant turnaround times on reports) are fine and have pros and cons to them. The big con I’d like to mention is that they cannot access all databases.
With an instant service you will not get criminal data from the following five states: MA, ND, DE, WY, and CO. That’s because they don’t allow “instantaneous access.” If your rental is in one of those states you may want to consider a service that offers hand-compiled reports.
Hopefully these tips will give you a better handle on identifying a great tenant for your rental. It’s not one thing that will get you a great tenant. It’s a combination of steps that will help you identify and place that perfect renter.