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Do Tenants Look for Online Landlord Reviews?

Key Takeaways

  • Most people surveyed admitted that they look for online reviews about their landlords before applying for a rental property.
  • Negative reviews can ruin your reputation and discourage potentially good tenants from applying to your rental.
  • Landlords can manage and prevent bad reviews by screening tenants, responding to tenant complaints, adhering to tenancy laws, and replying professionally to each bad review.

Published on Aug 9, 2023 | Updated on Sep 5, 2023

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When a property manager or landlord receives bad reviews, it can sometimes devastate their reputation and deter ideal prospective tenants from submitting their applications.

SingleKey collected over 900 survey responses on how many people search reviews on landlords before applying for a rental property. In this article, we’ll talk about approaches landlords can take to prevent bad reviews and how they can take action when they appear online.

Are renters looking for reviews on prospective landlords?

Tenants check landlord reviews

In a SingleKey survey, 76% of prospective tenants responded yes to looking at landlord reviews. In comparison, only 24% answered that they do not look at landlord reviews before applying to a rental property.

The majority of people screen landlords before submitting a rental application. There are various reasons why a prospective tenant would find specific landlord behavior undesirable. For instance, if you’re consistently visiting the rental property unannounced or are unresponsive to tenant requests, this can prompt tenants to file their complaints online, which can be deal breakers to renters.

Reviews can affect the success and growth of a landlord or property manager’s business and cast a positive or negative light on the person’s reputation.

How landlord reviews influence potential tenants

Online reviews are easily accessible and are one of the first things prospective tenants look for when researching potential landlords. It makes sense that good reviews attract high-quality tenants who pay rent on time and aren’t disruptive or negligent with the property. 

Good renters will also report repairs when needed so the property doesn’t deteriorate and require even more extensive (and expensive) work. This means that being responsive to these requests will not only have a positive impact on reviews, but it will be financially wise for the maintenance of the rental. Responding to tenant complaints and notifying them when you plan to visit the property are two other ways to avoid negative online landlord reviews.

How to manage negative online rental property reviews

If you get a bad review online, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. You have to address it and manage it skillfully. Monitor your online reviews and respond professionally to all of them, including those that are negative and include baseless claims.

For instance, if a tenant posts an online review that accurately represents a landlord’s past behavior, the landlord should apologize and share the steps they and their property management team have taken to resolve the issues. Take responsibility and offer apologies and solutions when appropriate. Or, if you come across a negative rant online that is not justified, such as a legal annual rent increase, be cordial and explain politely that an annual rent increase is written and stated within the terms of the lease agreement. 

By promptly addressing online reviews, a landlord will exhibit professionalism and a willingness to address any issues, which will gain the trust of future tenants and help their rental property business grow.

How property managers can avoid bad reviews

It’s not uncommon for unhappy customers to vent online. When a tenant leaves a scathing review, it can damage your business. Here are steps you can take to avoid getting bad reviews. 

5 steps to avoid bad online landlord reviews

Use tenant screening reports

Before drafting a rental agreement, you’ll want to ensure you approve top-grade tenants. Using a tenant screening service like SingleKey is an efficient way to identify good tenants. 

When searching for a new tenant, running a tenant report on applicants and properly screening them will significantly improve your chances of landing a good renter and avoid unpaid rent, broken leases, and bad online landlord reviews. A tenant report will run credit checks from major credit bureaus and confirm proof of income with employment verification to ensure the applicant has sufficient income to afford their monthly rent. A good renter is much less likely to leave negative, unwarranted reviews online.

One advantage of filling vacancies faster is having a steady rental income, but you may end up housing less-than-ideal tenants. Some possible drawbacks include late rental payments, infringing terms in the lease agreement, neglecting the property’s condition, or breaking the lease, leaving you to pay your rental property mortgage without a rental income. 

If you want to free yourself from the constraints of a bad tenant, you can use a rent guarantee program like the one offered by SingleKey that will support you if you must go through the eviction process. During an eviction, SingleKey’s paralegal team will handle every step of the eviction process and cover legal fees up to a certain amount depending on where your rental property is located.

Understand Fair Housing laws 

Fair Housing laws protect people from discrimination when renting or buying a home. For instance, Canada’s Human Rights Act protects people from discrimination because of race, nationality, religion, sex, or disability. It’s best to avoid asking questions about these topics during the rental application process or any time throughout the tenancy. When screening applicants, landlords can legally review a tenant’s eviction records, criminal records, history with previous landlords, and verify their income.

Be responsive to tenant complaints

If your tenant is alerting you of a problem with the rental, they are acting responsibly by ensuring that your property is taken care of. The issue might also affect their wellbeing, so landlords should promptly respond to complaints.

When determining the rent, budget for unexpected repairs, especially if it’s an older home. Experienced landlords know to keep an inventory of household items that may need updates. If you budget your rental monthly income to fix the property, when you get calls from a tenant, you can minimize cash flow problems and be financially able to afford renovations, big or small. 

Manage and keep the property clean before renting it out 

The DIY maintenance approach can be cost-effective if you have skills. But we recommend hiring a professional to do the job if you have any doubts. Hire a certified electrician for repair issues and a plumber for plumbing. Working with professionals will put an end to household issues quickly. If property damage or upkeep is needed while the home is vacant, the property owner is responsible for covering maintenance and repair costs. 

Familiarize yourself with local laws 

As a landlord, you must familiarize yourself with local and state laws to understand the costs you must cover and the documentation you must provide to a tenant. For example, in Canada, landlords are responsible for pest issues under the Residential Tenancies Act. Landlords are also responsible for maintaining the structural components of a rental and providing receipts to tenants upon request.

Many first-time landlords take on too many important tasks independently, like repairing their rental property or vetting applicants when searching for new tenants. Hiring a professional tenant screening company or purchasing a comprehensive tenant report will provide:

  • Credit score and credit reports
  • Rental history from previous landlords
  • A background check
  • Income sources

All the information in a tenant report will give landlords a clear picture of who they will be renting to. Landlords are bound to local and state legislation and should stick to these laws to avoid legal issues if they reside in the U.S. Landlords based in Canada have federal and provincial laws and acts they must abide by when screening a rental applicant.

FAQ: Why reviews matter for landlords and property managers

Good reviews will boost search results and also attract good tenants. Just as landlords check prospective tenants’ credit reports to ensure they are responsible, prospective tenants look at online reviews for landlords and property managers in their search for a new home.

Hunting for a new place can be disheartening if a tenant can’t find a place where the rent is affordable, the location is good, and the landlord has a sterling reputation. Good online landlord reviews are essential to anyone managing rental units or investment properties.

Tenants can use discretion when reading reviews and note how the landlord responds to each negative review. If good reviews outweigh one bad review, it’s safe to say it was an isolated incident. If several bad reviews are associated with the same issue, then this is a red flag that the landlord is not providing a solution.

In addition to looking at online reviews, prospective tenants should research rental listings before they begin the application process.

Reviews provide insights for both the tenants and landlords. If a good tenant-landlord relationship is established, a negative review won’t emerge online since most issues can be handled by the landlord with clear communication between both parties.

A landlord can learn from a bad review and take measures to acknowledge and improve on past mistakes. You can increase your landlord rating by handling disputes tactfully and respectfully.

Our final thoughts

The quality of your tenant can make or break your rental business. Without a formal tenant screening process in place that includes credit reports with credit scores, you could end up with a tenant who is negligent with your property, delinquent on the rent, and leaves poor reviews that ruin your business. With a SingleKey Tenant Report, you’ll gain access to all the pertinent information you need to filter through risky applicants and locate the ideal tenant.

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