So, you want to rent out your property? You need to find the right tenants, so consider your tenant screening criteria when thinking about how to find tenants. You should be as focused as possible when looking for renters to protect your investment, so take a look at our top tips for finding tenants.
1. Legal Responsibilities
Know your responsibilities within the law. Understand the Fair Housing Act and what it means for you as a landlord. You must act within the letter of the law, and this particular law outlines the specifics of what constitutes illegal discrimination to prospective renters. You can base your decision on whether or not to rent to someone based on whether they have pets or even their criminal history, but you must respect protected characteristics.
All matters being equal, you cannot refuse to rent to an applicant on the grounds of:
As an owner or property manager, take the time also to research any relevant state or federal laws that cover rental properties to ensure you stay within the law.
2. Sift Applications Through Your Property Listing
You need to advertise your property’s availability, and whether you choose to go online or use a brick and mortar agency, you should put together clear property details. If you’re upfront with what you can offer and what you expect from your tenant, then you won’t have to field any time wasters. The work on how to find good tenants can be a time-consuming issue, so aid the process by letting prospective applicants see how great your property is.
In your listings, it is useful to have some good quality photos of your house and essential details such as:
- Neighborhood/location details
- Count of bedrooms and bathrooms
- If there is a garage on the property
- Any additional features such as a pool or basement
- How much rent you will be charging
Of course, your tenant screening criteria will remain the same for all your applicants, you’ll need to get an idea of all prospective renters’ financial and criminal backgrounds before you can proceed.
3. Waiting List
Keep a waiting list, and if anyone ever asks if your properties are available take note. While you can let prospective tenants know that you don't have anything for them right now, there’s no harm in asking if you can take their email or cell number for future reference.
When you do have a vacancy, you can email everyone on your waitlist and let them know. Even if your rental isn’t the right fit, or it’s not the right time for them, you will still have the link to your rental ad out there.
4. Write a Clear Rental Ad
Set out your criteria for prospective renters and ensure that your application process covers all the bases. You need to collect personal and financial details about applicants and use a reliable tenant screening company so that you can be sure that you have all the necessary information to make a decision.
Information that you need to get from applicants includes:
- Social Security numbers
- Previous address history
- Employment information
- Number of tenants wishing to move into the property
- Details of any pets
- Personal and employment references
5. Leverage Social Media
You already know how to network; the chances are that you or your company has social media that you use to get your personal or professional message out there. Your social networks have reach, and you can leverage them to help you with how to find tenants.
You can share your online ad and application process on your social media channels and invite friends to share it too. Your ad will get in front of a lot of people, but don't forget to screen prospective tenants even if they are friends of friends.
6. Businesses and Corporate Housing
You can reach out to local companies to see if they have a relocation assistance or housing recommendation feature for their employees. You’re likely to find it easy to verify information on their salary and take up employment references for prospective tenants.
7. Good Communication
Once you’ve found a great tenant for your property, you’ll want to keep them. Having long-term tenants keeps expenses down, but having someone in the property who pays on time and takes care of the place is invaluable.
If you communicate any issues to your tenant and keep them updated, you will keep your relationship on a positive footing. Your tenant will be happy if they can rely on you to provide a top customer service experience.
8. Maintain Your Property
Property maintenance is a central feature of property management. Your responsibility as a landlord or property manager is to ensure that the property remains in good shape. Keeping up with repairs, small or large, is a key way to keep tenants happy and your house or apartment in good condition.
9. Tenant Screening Checks
This is the big one, no matter where you find your tenants. You must have a thorough tenant screening criteria. If you choose an online tenant screening service, you can have your results back within just a few hours of the applicants submitting their details.
Send your tenants a link to the screening service for an easy way to complete the checks without juggling paperwork and personal details. Providers such as Rentspree will perform checks on your prospective tenant’s identity so you can be sure they are who they say they are. A proper tenant screening service then moves on to a search of their financial background, including any previous evictions or bankruptcies.
You need to check out a prospective renter’s background in general too. Your screening service will access various state, local, and national databases to ensure that the applicant does not have a criminal record for drug-related or violent offenses. You need peace of mind that the tenant you choose will be both financially responsible and not present a danger to the property or people close by.
10. Lease Agreement
As a property manager, you need to set expectations with a solid lease agreement. Set out the terms and conditions that the tenants should abide by, such as when the rent is due and any late fees you plan to charge.
You and the new tenant both need to be clear on the specifics of who is living in the property, whether pets or smokers are allowed, or any other policies you have. It is vital to underline, in particular, what you deem to be a basis for eviction. Your tenant screening criteria will form the basis of your rental policies.
Have High Standards
Don’t make the mistake of renting your property to the first person that comes along. If you have any questions about the suitability of an applicant after thorough screening, then go back to the drawing board. The wrong tenant will cost you financially and in emotional energy and stress. Be sure to check applicants out thoroughly, and then you will hopefully be able to build a beautiful long-term relationship.