There is more to finding rental tenants than simply posting an ad online. If you want to find and keep good tenants, you need to follow a system and understand certain laws.
How to Find Quality Rental Tenants
Rental property owners are always on the lookout for high-quality tenants. Ideally, all renters would be upright citizens with outstanding rental histories and credit scores. Unfortunately, the reality is far from that. Here are some tips on how to find good tenants:
1. Come Up With a Rental Criteria
How do I choose a prospective tenant? The first thing you must do is set the right criteria. When crafting this, make sure to consider everything you are looking for in a tenant. If you don’t know where to start, it’s a good idea to think about what other landlords want in a tenant.
What do most landlords look for in tenants? Typically, landlords want tenants who can afford rent and pay it on time. Tenants should also be amiable and have no attitude problems. You should also take into account certain policies you have.
For instance, if you have a no-pets policy, then your prospective tenant obviously shouldn’t own a pet or is willing not to bring theirs into the property.
2. List Your Property Online
The best way to find tenants for rental property is to post an online listing. In fact, 75 percent of renters begin their search for a new residence online.
There’s just no denying it — you can reach a wider market by marketing your rental property through online avenues.
Of course, there’s also an art to creating an online listing for your rental property. When learning how to list a house for rent, start with a compelling title. This usually includes what potential renters can expect from your property. Include the price, number of beds, number of baths, the type of property, and the location. For example: $1,000/mo – 2 BR / 1 BT Apartment in Woodbury.
Describe the property in a paragraph and use adjectives to make it alluring. Mention any extra features or added amenities such as a pool or a view of the city. Your ad should also set expectations, so make sure to bring up the rental application process and any special policies you have. Remind potential rental tenants that they will need to authorize background checks, credit checks, and the like.
3. Pay Attention at Property Showings
After you find tenants online, you will need to show the property to interested parties either in-person or virtually. This is a good chance to get a feel of the prospective tenant and gauge their behavior. It’s usually not a good sign if your tenant is rude or is late to the appointment (or doesn’t show up altogether).
Property showings also allow you to ask important questions such as:
- Why are you moving?
- When you do plan to move in?
- Do you have pets?
- Do you smoke?
- Will you be living alone?
Tenant Screening 101: What to Check
The search for the perfect tenant doesn’t stop with a rental application. You should also obtain consent from your prospective tenant to conduct certain checks. If a tenant doesn’t consent, then that should be a red flag because it indicates that the person has something to hide. Make sure to check the following:
- Income or Employment Status. You need proof that your prospective renter has the financial ability to pay rent. It’s ideal to find renters with a monthly income at least three times the amount you charge in rent. You can check their income through pay stubs or even call their employer directly to verify the details.
- Credit Score. A credit report will allow you to determine the prospective tenant’s credit score. From that, you can surmise their income to debt ratio. You can have this done for a small fee.
- Background. A background check will let you know whether a prospective renter has a criminal history.
- Rental History. It’s also a good idea to contact the rental tenant’s previous landlords to find out about their past behavior. You can ask whether the tenant paid their rent on time, took care of the rental property, how they behaved, etc.
Know Your Federal and State Laws
As a landlord, you should familiarize yourself with the many laws that affect your dealings. This includes laws on a federal, state, and local level.
Fair Housing Act
This federal act ensures that all landlords treat all tenants fairly. It was written to prevent housing discrimination against certain classes of people. The act states that you can’t discriminate against tenants based on their race or color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, and/or disability.
Several states also have their own fair housing rules that landlords must follow. For instance, in California, you can’t discriminate against tenants with certain criminal records. It’s important to check the laws in your state to prevent getting into legal trouble.
The landlord-tenant law states the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. It outlines certain rules about lease agreements and security deposits, too. As a landlord, you should acquaint yourself with the landlord-tenant law so that you don’t accidentally violate the rights of your tenant.
What are the rights of a tenant? Tenants have a right to the following:
- Quiet enjoyment of their home
- Livable conditions
- A lead-free home
- A certain level of privacy
Reasons to Deny Tenants
It’s essential to maintain the utmost professionalism when finding and screening tenants. Making decisions based on personal biases or reasons can put you in legal trouble. There are many reasons to deny renting tenants, such as:
- Monthly income can’t cover rent and deposits
- Incomplete rental application
- Doesn’t authorize background, credit, or rental history checks
- Fails to provide you with proof of income or employment
- Gives you fake references
- Has a history of late rent payments
- Has a history of damaging rental properties
How to Keep Good Rental Tenants
Quality tenants are hard to find, so when you finally land one, you should do your best to keep them around. Making good tenants renew their lease agreements is much simpler than you might think, though.
How do I keep my tenants happy?
- Take Care of the Property. What do tenants want in a rental property? They want a clean space with nice amenities and working utilities. Taking care of your rental property is one way to ensure your tenants stay satisfied.
- Treat Tenants Equally and Fairly. How do you treat tenants? It’s important to treat all tenants equally, showing no favoritism or disdain for select tenants. You should also treat them fairly and without personal bias.
- Cultivate a Relationship Based on Respect. Respect is a vital ingredient in any healthy relationship, including one between landlords and tenants. When you respect your tenant (and they respect you), they’re more likely to keep renewing their lease.
- Respond. A responsive landlord is something a lot of renters look for. Make yourself reasonably available to your tenants for any concerns they may have. Consider having a dedicated line for emergencies, too.
- Offer Renewal Incentives. Everyone loves discounts and freebies. Think about providing your tenants with a discounted month if they choose to renew with you for another term.
The Role of HOAs and COAs
Many HOAs and COAs restrict owners from renting out their property. Association members might think this is infringing on their rights. But, provided the HOA or COA board is acting within the law and its power, it can absolutely restrict rentals.
Some HOAs and COAs may allow rentals, but they typically have rules and regulations to keep them in check. Both HOAs and COAs, though, must also follow federal and state housing laws. That means an association can’t specify the type of tenant property owners can and can’t rent to. Fair Housing laws still apply.
It Pays Off
Finding quality rental tenants takes work, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort. When you leave the process up to chance, you can get stuck with a bad tenant who never pays rent on time, causes damage to your rental property, and disrupts the neighborhood.
Managing a property or HOA community can be difficult without the right tools. Contact Condo Manager today for expert solutions designed for HOA management companies and self-managed HOAs. Call us at (800) 626-1267 or reach out to us online for a free demo.
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