How to Attract Good Tenants

Updated: 7/15/2020

How to attract good tenants

One of the most time consuming and stressful activities as a landlord or property manager is to find the perfect tenant. The tenants that will pay rent on time, take care of your valuable investment property, respect other tenants and stay for a very long time. Does that tenant exist? Yes he, she or they do and we’ll go over 20 tips on how to attract good tenants; and keep them!

How to attract good tenants

Before we jump into it, we’d like to remind you that it’s important to follow anti-discrimination guidelines on local, city and state level. Be mindful of your words when posting your listings and disqualifying potential tenants. You don’t want to run into legal trouble on your journey to find your next super star tenant. Contact your legal counsel for further questions on this matter.

1.) Who is your ideal tenant?

The very first thing you should do when figuring out how to attract good tenants is to sit down and write out a list of criteria of who you want living in your investment property. Having a solid idea of your ideal tenant will allow you to quickly go through your applicants and focus on those who check all your criteria. Here are some tips that can help you build your criteria.

A tenant who pays their rent on time

One of the quickest ways you can assure your tenant will not only pay their rent, but also pay it on time is to do a deep analysis of their credit report. Their credit card payment history can help you build up a profile of how responsible they are on making payments on time.

Another tip is to look for property management software such as Cozy where tenants can setup automatic recurring payments and offer them this service in your initial interview. If they already know how to use it or already have an account, you’re on the right track!

Responsible tenant

Who wouldn’t want to rent to the most responsible tenant they can find? A great way to see just how responsible a tenant your prospect will be is to check if they already have renters insurance. If they don’t, ask them how they would feel about purchasing a renters insurance policy. If everything checks out here, your prospect is looking mighty responsible!

Long term tenant

Tenant turnover is one of the most expensive costs of doing business for landlords and property managers. They have to invest time and money into fixing up the rental, advertising for new prospects, spend time showing the unit and setting up interviews, screening and don’t get me started on vacant periods. This all quickly adds up to potential massive loses of time and money. Finding a tenant that will potentially stay in your rental is mega important.

One way to gauge this is to see how long your tenant has been employed by current and past employers. Check how long they have had relationships with their references, their spouse etc. This is a good way to assess your prospect’s “loyalty”. Keep in mind, for this to work, your eventual tenant will also need to be happy and that’s where you as a landlord must hold your end of the deal.

2.) Understand your rental market

Understanding your rental market plays a huge factor on how you attract good tenants. The first step in knowing your rental market is to analyze what type of features your property location offers. Is it located in a high traffic, big city type area? Is it near good schools and more of a quiet neighborhood feel? What type of crowds do your other rentals or landlord neighbors attract or rent to?

Next, we look at demographics. What type of amenities does your rental cater to? What generation would fit-in at your rental property? Understanding each generation’s needs is so important to understanding to who you would likely be renting to.

Analyzing data such as the 4th annual Consumer Housing Trends Report created by Zillow will help you get a deep understanding of what type of renter is renting what type of rental looking for what type of amenities and needs.

For example, did you know that the millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1996) makes up for approximately 49% of renters in the United States? This probably means they have stable jobs, most likely have a family and have different needs than other generations. Did you also know that current trends say that 31% of all renters now prefer to live with a dog instead of kids? 20% of Gen Z renters, which are the youngest group of renters to hit the market, need help with covering 67% of their rent which probably means you would deal with a constant change of roommates situation.

3.) Increase rental value in higher income markets

So now that you’ve done a deep analysis of your rental market, the next tip on how to attract good tenants is to see how you can increase rental value if your market allows it. High income markets are most likely in popular parts of town because of business opportunities or extracurricular activities such as bars and nightlife.

Big kitchens with stainless steel appliances, central or wall mounted air conditioning, built in laundry areas, pet friendly amenities, smart home features, fitness centers, business centers, outdoor gathering areas with grills and tables, game or lounge rooms and rooftop decks are all great jump off points to start attracting those higher income prospects.

According to the Zillow report, top-ranked “luxury amenities” in order of importance are:

  • 20% prefer a fitness center or gym
  • 17% are looking for a designated pet area, business center or other shared amenities
  • 15% would love a recreational area such as a game room or movie theater
  • 14% of higher income renters would like to see a hot tub or a pool

Focus on the type of renters you want to attract by learning about their generation’s needs and cater to that! This will yield maximum results.

4.) Showcase local amenities to attract good tenants

Building off your recent rental market research, what type of local amenities does your property rental offer? Families look for entirely different local amenities than do singles with pets or someone temporarily living in the area due to business. Try some of these options:

  • Local fresh market within walking distance
  • Plenty of dog friendly parks near by
  • After school activity centers such as karate, math center, little league baseball, Pop Warner football etc.
  • Mention any public transportation options such as bus routes, train stations, bike lanes etc.
  • Is the area in a heavily covered Uber or other types of ride sharing accommodations? How about those super popular food delivery services such as Door dash and Grub hub; are those services easily available at your property?
  • Provide a list of local elementary, Jr. High School and High Schools. If there are higher educational institutes nearby, those would also be a good idea to mention.
  • Have fun with it! You can mention something quirky your city or neighborhood is known for! For example, did you know that in San Luis Obispo, California, there is an alley that is over 15 feet high and 70 feet long that is completely covered with chewed gum?! It is known as Bubblegum Alley.

5.) Study your surrounding competition

Look for surrounding rental listings and play dress up! Pretend you’re a prospect and ask about rent amount, amenities and more. It’s important to know what your competition is doing to beat them! How much are they charging for rent? What amenities are they offering that you’re not? What kind of turnover rates do they have? Write down anything you can improve with your own listings such as a local amenity you forgot to mention.

6.) Use professional photography services

If you want to stand out over the competition, you can’t go cheap on the photography. Focus on what you would like to see when shopping online, the more angles you provide the better!

Virtual tours are becoming a huge success! Why? Because they save you and your prospects time and money! You can really get a feel for what the property truly looks and feels like with virtual tours and in turn making the calls you get for viewings more authentic.

Things you should focus on:

  • Pictures highlighting all of your amenities
  • Multiple angles of kitchen and bathrooms
  • Show off your clean bathtub
  • Balcony and/or patio area
  • If your property allows it, lots of pictures of community amenities such as play areas, pet friendly areas, BBQ areas etc.

Again, look at what your competition is doing! If you find that including certain types of pictures in your ads works better than other times, make a note of it!

7.) Advertise only finished rental property

A big mistake landlords and property managers make when learning how to attract good tenants is advertising their rental property when it’s not yet finished or ready to properly view. I can almost guarantee that if you show a half-cleaned or show a mid-modified rental property, it won’t get rented. Every prospect that walks your property with hopes of renting it is imagining countless things!

They’re imagining how their furniture will fit with the space provided. How the walls with look with the décor they already have. How will their nice shag carpet look with that light coming in from the living room. It’s hard enough for them to imagine all of this with an empty, clean and ready to rent apartment. Don’t make them try to ignore the debris sitting in the middle of their possible future dining room area.

8.) Write a compelling listing

A task I feel a lot of landlords and property managers take lightly. Writing compelling listings should be a top priority once your rental is ready to rent. One must place themselves in the shoes of prospective tenants. What would they want to read? What words would attract to click, call or send an e-mail about this listing?

With that in mind, placing keywords strategically in your headline and body of your ad copy is what pros do to entice you to click on online articles about stuff you’re searching for. This tactic basically tries to assume or guess what the prospective might type in the search bar! Here are a few examples of headlines:

  • Spacious 4 bedroom apartment in Santa Monica near the beach
  • 2 bedroom apartment with large balcony near shopping mall
  • Dog friendly condo with 2 car garage in San Bernardino
  • Amazing light with floor to ceiling windows and large master bedroom

A good trick is to start typing away in google search box and let the predictive words help you! These are words or phrases that commonly get searched for. Adding county or city names will help you narrow things down on a local level.

Another good tip to use is to use emotive words! Here is a great list to help you get started. I really loved this example:

  • Attractive 2 bed room apartment near sensational local market

Most importantly, make sure your ad copy is true to your property. Do not “oversell” it because this could have a negative impact as this might be considered lying or deceptive.

9.) Advertise online

The very first option for advertising your vacant rental property online should be using your very own website! Using your own website will wreak very important benefits over time, if you do things right. You can start your very own website project today and use social media to drive in some instant traffic or look at purchasing pay per click ads. Make sure you integrate essential SEO practices from the very beginning to start ranking as soon as possible!

Benefits of creating and advertising vacant units on your own website:

  • No need to stick to what other websites have to offer. Create your own template exactly how you want it.
  • No limits on photos or detailed information you want to offer.
  • Start a blog offering your tenants tips on how to keep your property well maintained.

You can also create a strategy to maximize your reach by simultaneously posting your ad on websites like Craigslist, Oodle, Zillow, Lovely or Rentals.com

If you apply some of the previously mentioned tips such as tips on market research, photography and writing compelling headlines and listings, you will be well on your way to attracting good tenants.

10.) Have flexible viewing hours

It is important to have flexible viewing hours when it comes to your vacant rental property. Everyone is busy these days and this does not exclude your potential tenants. As a landlord, you must come to terms that having a Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM viewing schedule is not going to yield the best results. Who are you trying to attract, really?

If you’re leaning towards renting to a responsible adult who works hard to be able to pay rent on time, it’s more than likely that they would only be able to view the property on a weekend or after 6 PM.

11.) Screen all applicants

If you haven’t yet noticed, the tips I’ve provided on how to attract good tenants until now have been in a particular order. The order, in fact, is basically a step by step guide on getting your rental property rented to a good tenant!

What I want to say is, screening all applicants may come as a number 11 on my list of 20 tips on how to attract good tenants, but I truly consider it to be one of the most important steps a landlord or property manager should take to ensure they know who they are really handing off a set of keys to their valuable investment.

Background check, credit history, employment history and personal references should do the trick, right? Why not go one little step further? I recommend asking for previous landlord references or letter of recommendations. If they hesitate to provide contact information to a previous landlord, that should raise some red flags.

Next to knowing who you’re renting to, you need to verify if your prospective tenants can afford the monthly rent. Knowing what constitutes as legitimate proof of income is a huge factor you should consider when screening your prospects.

When it comes to employer information, do not 100% trust the information they provide you with. Do you know how easy it is for a prospect to get a buddy of theirs to act as an employer? Get on Google and search for the company they say they work for and call their humans resources department or ask for an immediate boss to gather additional information.

Taking the screening process seriously can save you a lot of headaches and money in the future by diligently trying to avoid renting to someone who may eventually need to be evicted.

12.) Have a rock solid rental agreement

Nothing beats a solid rental agreement in court.

Please don’t download a cookie cutter rental agreement off the internet and use it. Take the time to either search for a reputable source of these types of documents, draft your own, or find a local, reputable apartment association to see if they can provide you with rental agreements.

Whatever route you take, invest a little bit of extra time and money by having a lawyer review it and making any necessary amendments or changes that suit your particular property or amendments that you offer your tenants.

In the case of rental agreements, you’re way better off having it and not needing it, than needing it in a court of law and not having it.

Good tenants appreciate the tranquility of having a lease that protects both the landlord and tenant.

13.) Be friendly but firm

Tenants (even good ones) often test the waters to see how much they can get away with stuff. This is where having a strong rental agreement (that covers most everything that can happen) comes in handy. Tenants will ask you to let things slide once in a while, but having a strong posture and constantly referencing the agreement, you’ll notice these requests slowly disappear.

What do I mean by being friendly but firm? Let’s say a tenant is late on their rent. Your rental agreement stipulates that a late rent fee is to be applied on the ledger for $25. Your tenant begs and begs you to let it slide. With a nice smile on your face, you can say something like “I understand the hardship this late fee will impose on you, but the rental agreement you signed clearly says you are to pay a fee when rent is late.” – this is not legal advice and meant for informational purposes only –

It isn’t to say that hardships won’t happen. We’ll leave it to your judgment on when and to whom you’re willing to be a little more lenient on. The purpose of this tip is to only let you be aware that word of a lenient landlord carries fast so be careful, friendly and firm.

14.) Perform regular maintenance

Good tenants want a nice looking and well maintained place to live. It’s that simple. If you went through all the trouble to finally attract and find your ideal tenant, don’t lose them for simple maintenance issues.

  • Always perform move in walk through inspections with your tenant present.
  • Perform routine inspection of your rental unit.
  • Take care of all habitability issues IMMIDEATELY.
  • Invest in a landscaping company to maintain and take care of common areas.
  • Keep detailed records of all maintenance performed on all of your rental properties.

One of the most common reasons why landlords have to agree on ridiculous settlements in court with tenants is due to landlords overseeing this key part of their business. One of the easiest ways to attract good tenants and keep them is by keeping your rental properties in tip top shape!

15.) Open Communication

Good tenants want to be heard and listened to. It’s important as a landlord or property manager to be available 24/7 in case of any type of emergency. When you learn how to attract good tenants, you’ll notice that the more you communicate with your tenants, the better your relationship will be. Here are some ideas on how to keep your communication open:

  • If you have an office or common area type building, have a bulletin board on upcoming events and activities for your tenants.
  • Create an email newsletter for your tenants and share details on maintenance; tips on how to keep their units clean, etc.
  • Provide a tenant only email address to easily keep track of any tenant related issues.

5 additional tips to go above and beyond to get the perfect tenant

16.) Print take home hand outs

While advertising your spectacularly clean rental unit, prospective tenants will come and view it. Make it easier for them to remember all your selling points by providing printed handouts. The handouts can include a couple pictures, layouts and dimensions, unique features, local amenities and most importantly, your contact info.

17.) Offer different payment options

Online rent payment gateways have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. This amenity can save you and your tenant time and money. Some of the more popular systems include PayPal, Cozy, Tenant Cloud and more. Here are some benefits of providing your good tenants this option:

  • Most of these services provide the option to setup late rent fees. This will incentivize your tenants to pay rent on time!
  • Tenants can setup automatic rent payments! These systems also do a great job in sending your tenants email reminders that their rent is due which means less work for you.
  • Most of these services are free!
  • Most of these online rent payment systems provide downloadable spreadsheets which keep track of your tenant’s payment history.

18.) Offer referral rewards to other tenants

Have you ever heard of the saying “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are”? Good tenants know other good tenants. Offering referral rewards for attracting good tenants can be a good idea to quickly fill up your vacancies with nothing but good tenants!

Rewards can include a $50 off rent, a voucher for furniture cleaning service, restaurants or amazon gift cards, etc.

19.) Look sharp

When you’re learning how to attract good tenants, you’ll see that dressing sharp for viewings, signing of contracts, doing move in walk throughs and inspections  makes great impressions on your tenants. You want to come off as professional as you possibly can whenever it comes to business.

20.) Word of mouth advertising

If a good tenant sees that you and your rental property meet and go beyond their expectations, you’ll see that word of mouth advertising happens on its own! If you make a conscious effort to keep your tenants happy they will willfully recommend any vacancies that may come up to the people they know.

We hope these tips on how to attract good tenants to your rental property help you keep your vacancies down for long periods of time. Do you use any other tactic we haven’t mentioned to attract good tenants?

At Fast Eviction Service, help on any of the issues discussed in this article is simply a click or phone call away. Email intake@fastevict.com or call our office at (800) 686-8686 to discuss your questions for a free evaluation of your case.

When it comes to renting an apartment or home, prospective tenants look at a number of different aspects. While rent is a major factor, there are various other things that tenants take into account before choosing a rental property. Read More...

This post is filed under: Attracting Tenants