You have prepared your precious rental property to leave potential tenants in awe. You have taken the right pictures to show off the pristine condition of your investment property. You have set up accounts and ads on all your favorite local classifieds websites, maybe even the printed ones. You start accepting applications, and often trust your gut feeling. You have found the perfect tenants, they pay you security deposit and first month’s rent upfront and you hand them the keys. Two months pass, and they haven’t paid rent, they’re not returning phone calls, and when you confront them with an eviction notice, they tell you they’re not budging and even worse; they’re damaging your precious property.
It’s not all that common, but it happens. This is all the reason to really take a look and prepare yourself before you even start taking applications to rent your property. There are many ways you can prevent this scenario in the first place by just taking your process a few extra steps further to find that perfect tenant. They exist, and they’re out there. Taking these next few tips into consideration when renting your property can attract the perfect tenant.
Advertise for the right tenant
When you’re finally ready to start taking phone calls, applications and taking appointments to view the property, the first step is to set up a strategic advertising campaign. A good tip is to advertise your rental property on the most outlets as possible, this way you can receive a larger number of interested tenants and you can really be picky on who you finally decide to allow to move in. Here are three good ideas to start.
- Newspapers/Magazines. Local newspapers seem to work the best, and make sure you keep your ad short and to the point. A good tip is to make sure you keep it interesting by putting a lot of information, but not too much as to have the prospected tenant shy away from trying to contact you. It is imperative you do not include the address to assure the really interested tenants call you and you can do prescreening right over the phone (more on that later.)
- Internet. This technique is becoming more and more popular. A free popular way to accomplish this is craigslist.org. There are definitely a lot more available websites and the best part about this option is that you can upload images of your property and really create that initial engagement. Be wise and follow the same principal as the newspaper option, do not list the address and make sure you establish that first contact through a telephone call and not an email or a text.
- Local signs. Although a bit old-school, this option is still very popular and widely used. Putting up a for rent sign on your lawn will definitely garnish interest either by drive by traffic, or even the local neighbors spreading the word around for friends and other relatives.
Pre-screening over the phone
The first thing you should do, and already should have prepared is a list of questions you can always have handy to automatically deter bad tenants. Now, before we continue, there are a few important things I should mention about something called discrimination. Federal law states that you cannot discriminate against someone under seven protected classes which include race, skin color, sex, origin, religion, disability and familial status. When you’re drafting your list of questions, just leave any questions pertaining to this completely out. Here are some popular questions or criteria that veteran and established landlords look for in a good tenant.
- Their household monthly income must be 3 times the asking rent.
- Names on the lease must be currently employed, and must be able to provide proof of income and employment.
- Applicants must have a good credit history, and advise the prospect that a credit check will be ran.
- Applicants must have good references from at least 3 previous landlords.
- Most landlords have a limit or total residents in the household per bedroom which is usually 2. So a family of 4 would be able to live in a two bedroom, but not a one bedroom.
You should have this check off list ready at all times and you’ll see that you’ll be able to weed out a lot of potential bad tenants. Remember, this is business. This step should eliminate the emotion factor in your selection process and avoid future headaches.
Viewing of the property
We’re all busy, and the worst feeling in the world is having someone not respect your time. This step can be a bit of a hassle because you’re excited that someone actually wants to see your house! Statistics show that about 50% of the possible tenants that concrete an appointment with you will not even show up at all, and even less bother to call you to let you know. Two popular rules of thumbs for this step are as follows.
- Have the potential tenants drive by the property first on their own, and have them call you back for further instructions on your house showing policy. This will eliminate the people who are not interested in the area and the ones who judge books by their cover.
- For the ones who call back and want to establish an appointment, you can let them know that you show your property on Thursdays and Saturdays from 5 to 7pm. This way, you can bulk set up appointments, and this also lets the potential tenant know that you’re serious and that they’re not the only ones looking at this house.
After all the prescreening attempts, you have made thus far, you will often find out that there are still a lot of duds to sift through. Encourage all adults to fill out your application even if you really don’t have a good feeling about this one or that one. This will help you avoid any issues with discrimination implications.
Some of the more important information to ask for when you’re screening your possible tenants are the following.
- Full names of all renters
- Date of birth
- Social security numbers
- Cell phone numbers
- Previous address, at least 3, or previous 10 years
- Current and past employer
The next step is to acquire the application fee. I cannot stress enough how important this step is. Do not under any circumstances begin to process an application without the prospected tenant paying the application fee. You need to do some local market research to see what would be the best practice in this case, but most landlords charge between 30-45 dollars.
The final verdict
Once you have begun the application processing, you will need to sift out your duds. Warning signs to look out for are bad credit history, violent offenders, eviction history and those sorts of things. Remember to keep yourself organized and process your applications on a first come first server basis to keep things fair. If you need to reject any applicant for any reason, make sure you keep it well documented as to avoid any possible discrimination claim.
Keeping these tips in mind while you’re in the process of renting your precious investment property will help you keeping out the potentially bad tenants that will give you a hard time. These tips could definitely help avoid an issue from the very beginning.
At Fast Eviction Service, help on any of the issues discussed in this article is simply a click or phone call away. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at (800) 686-8686 to discuss your questions for a free evaluation of your case.
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