Finding good tenants could really save you a lot of headaches. Paid rent, no damage, complaints and even more time for family and friends. It is always worth investing the extra time and effort to find a good tenant.
Although it may seem like a complicated process, it comes down to 2 things:
1) Having interested applicants to choose from
This step-by-step article will focus on helping you put your best foot forward when marketing your rental listing.
Best Practices for Finding Good Tenants
Step 1: Say Cheese! Start with Great Photos
That’s right, take photos that people want to see. Landlords and property managers need to learn how to take good rental photos.
The purpose of these photos is to intrigue people to come and check out your rental property. In the rental market you are competing against similar listings and your unit’s photos are the first opportunity to make a good impression.
Your rental’s photos should provide a complete view of your unit. Make sure to showcase the appearance and size of your property. Angles are important. Be strategic with how you take your property’s pictures to really display the space and layout in the rental unit.
Make sure that your rental property is cleaned and ready to be rented. No one will be interested in a household with dirty laundry on the floor and paint that is already peeling off the walls.
Once the rental unit looks great, take photos with bright lighting, ideally during a sunny day, and consider having all the lights on.
By helping your potential applicants know what to expect, it will usually be the most interested tenants that come to the viewing and provide their information.
Step 2: List Your Unit on the Top Rental Sites
It is your goal now to get as much exposure as possible to your listing in order to find qualified tenants who are ready to move in.
Here are some of the best free rental listings sites to advertise your property:
When working on your rental advertisement, follow this format for greater traction.
- Attention-grabbing headline
- Highlights of your property (Size, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.)
- Location (approximate/intersection)
- Detailed description of your rules, fees and any other important information
When posting your rental’s photos, make sure to include a description of your property and your expectations. This will separate the interested viewers from the not so interested ones.
Step 3: Pre-Screen Tenants and Schedule a Viewing
After hearing back from interested applicants, let all of the candidates know that you will be holding viewings on a specified date (preferably weekends). This saves time and is more efficient than having daily viewings.
Before inviting a rental applicant to a viewing, make sure to ask a few pre-screening questions, to avoid wasting time on tenants who will not qualify. Some key questions you should ask from the get-go are:
- Their monthly income (to determine affordability)
- Their credit scores (to estimate risk)
- Their preferred move-in date (to save time)
Keep in mind, a lot of the time the viewing is the moment where the tenant decides whether or not they would like to rent out your property. With that said, make sure to:
- See that the appliances are working in order as well as light bulbs, doors, etc.
- Remove unnecessary furniture and items for a more spacious look.
- Air out the unit with some fresh air before your showing.
- If necessary, repaint the walls of the property.
COVID Alert! Virtual Tours
Note that in many regions, viewings are now done online due to COVID. Many landlords are doing Virtual Tours via video calls so that they can walk through and show the unit while chatting with the prospective tenant and answering their questions in real time.
Step 4: Follow the Fair Housing Act
The law states that you can not discriminate against a wide array of people and behaviors. This means that questions regarding certain subjects must not be asked, including:
- Race and Colour
- Marital status
As a landlord you are responsible to follow this act and can face serious penalties if you do not.
Also keep in mind that by discriminating against certain people, you may be missing out on a great tenant.
Step 5: Rental Application Form and References
Knowing exactly what to include in a rental application form can be difficult. Without the right information on the form, the application can make your decision challenging.
For this reason we included a list of the most important things to ask for.
- Applicant information:
- Personal Information (Name, Address, Date of Birth, Contact Info)
- Credit Score
- ID/Driver’s License
- Consent for Credit Check: Running a tenant credit & background check has become standard practice when renting, and most tenants will expect it. So, make sure to have a consent clause in your rental application form.
- Proof of Income: In the form of recent pay stubs, employment letters or bank statements. This is critical to ensure employment and sufficient income to pay the rent.
- Employment References: Asking for the applicant’s employment history and a reference from their manager will give you an idea of whether or not they are stable.
- Previous Rental History: More often than not applicants will have previous history that you can learn from. By asking for this information and contacting the previous landlord you can ask about rent payments as well as the condition of their home.
By having this information about the applicants, you will generally have a great understanding of their tendencies and whether you would like them to live in your property.
More importantly, rental applications will make it clear what type of applicants you should generally decline.
You may still receive applicants that do not meet all of your qualifications, but they can explain why they still proceeded with the application if this was the case.
Step 6: Do Not Settle!
Finding a worthy tenant is not an easy task, and if you do not feel confident about your applicants, there is no need to move forward with them.
Finding good tenants is a marathon not a race. Invest the time and effort to find good tenants because it will save you a lot of stress and headaches that can result from dealing with a problematic tenant. Sometimes it may be worth losing a month of rent due to a vacancy to take the time to find the right tenant.
Evicting a delinquent tenant can cost a landlord thousands of dollars in lost rent, damages and legal fees – as well as significant time and stress. If you want to avoid these headaches and have complete peace of mind, consider enrolling in a Rent Guarantee Program.
Goodluck, and happy renting!