Every landlord or manager needs to know how to find good tenants. Getting a great tenant in your property is every landlord’s dream for a reason. A tenant that pays rent on time, cares for the property, and who is generally kind and easy to work with means smooth sailing for both involved parties.
How to Attract Good Tenants:
Finding a good tenant often comes down to knowing how to attract and how to pick a good tenant. While you might be tempted to use a tenant finder or similar service, nothing beats word of mouth. Tenants are much more likely to get excited about your property if they have had a referral from a current or past happy customer.
If you have a multifamily property, host events on your rental property and invite prospective tenants to join in the community or give your current renters a referral discount if they recommend a new tenant that moves in.
Once you have a lot of prospects at your door, it’s time to narrow the selections. In order to get a great tenant into your rental property, you need to know how to find good tenants and pick them out from a pool of applicants. (During this process, keep in mind, that some state laws require you to assess each individual application in the order that they are received in order to find the first qualified applicant. Regardless of your state’s laws, this can also be a good method to ensure that you are protecting yourself from discrimination claims.)
How to Find Good Tenants and Keep Them:
Step One: Initiate an In-Depth Tenant Screening Process With Every Applicant
Finding a great tenant starts with a great tenant screening process. To avoid discrimination claims, it is vital that you apply the same tenant screening process with every applicant. Having a written tenant screening policy will ensure that every time you (or a member of your property management team) addresses a potential tenant, every applicant is treated fairly.
Not only do written screening policies serve as easy templates for interaction with applicants, but they can also be a good way to show that you are legally and objectively evaluating a potential tenant.
To evaluate an applicant’s rule-abiding behavior and their level of financial responsibility, you should consider checking their criminal history, public records, landlord references, and credit report.
Landlord tips to avoid dodgy tenants (What to asses when screening tenants):
- Applicant does not have any criminal convictions for crimes considered harmful to people or property
- Applicant does not have a history of noise complaints
- Applicant does not have a history of lease violations
- Applicant does not have a history of evictions due to lease violations
- Applicant’s rental references would rent to him again
- Applicant does not falsify any application information
- Applicant has demonstrated responsibility by paying bills on time
Step Two: Ask Applicants Informative and Legal Interview Questions
Asking your rental applicants interview questions allows you to get to know their personality, rule-abiding behavior, and ask questions about any areas of potential concern. However, you must be aware of how to ask questions and engage in conversation that is not only informative but also avoids violating the Fair Housing Act unintentionally.
Remember: seemingly casual conversation topics like asking if the applicant has kids or talking about the neighborhood and mentioning that you go to the church down the street can be considered violations of the fair housing act.
Step Three- Have an Action Plan for Tenant Retention When the Time Comes
Knowing how to find good tenants fast may seem like the goal. After all, you want to find a responsible tenant quickly to ensure that a vacancy doesn’t kill your bottom line.
But, finding a good tenant is only half of the battle; it’s vital to know how to find and keep good tenants. Use tenant retention tactics to keep the tenant you’ve worked so hard to find; don’t be afraid to invest your time and finances into your tenant retention action plan.
Tenant turnover comes with the risk of a long-term vacancy. And even with great tenant screening practices, there is always a chance that you end up with a nightmare tenant that causes property damage or doesn’t pay rent on time. For this reason, it’s worthwhile to invest in tenant retention strategies that foster a great landlord-tenant relationship once you have found a dream tenant.
Excellent Tenant Retention Strategies to Explore:
- Offer a welcome gift at move-in
- These are a low-expense way to make your tenant feel extra welcome at your property. Gifts can range from a simple handwritten note to an expensive gift basket. Wow your renters with this easy recipe for the perfect tenant welcome gift basket.
- Grow your property’s community by hosting resident events
- There are a lot of reasons to host resident events. Among others, they can be helpful, to encourage community and even generate free advertisement.
- Foster great communication by understanding how to handle tenant requests
- Managing a property requires excellent customer service, whether you’re a landlord or a property manager you need to understand how to deal with reasonable requests from your tenants.
- Show your appreciation with gifts to tenants during the holiday season
- Tenant holiday gifts don’t have to be fancy to have an impact. A simple holiday card with a personalized message is an excellent and affordable gesture if your budget allows for a bit of flexibility to pick out a special treat to show your appreciation. In this same vein, consider sending a card or small gifts to tenants on their birthday.
No one wants to have an empty unit, but it’s always worth it to find the perfect renter for your property. Invest the time to standardize your tenant screening and to establish a great relationship with the tenants you already have (After all, nothing brings in good tenants like a referral from another good tenant.) Knowing how to find good tenants for rental property success will save you time, money and make rental management a breeze.
Some of the info in this article is not legal per Oregon law! You cannot have a “prospective tenant pool” to choose from! You MUST rent to the FIRST qualified applicant. You cannot use past property damage as a criteria for disqualifying anymore either. Thank our wonderful legislatures for these wonderful changes. Please contact ORHA for updates on tenant screening law in Oregon.
Great point! That is a great reminder; it’s vital to keep in touch with your individual state and local laws with regards to tenant screening, as they are always changing. I’ve added some language to reflect this within the article. Thanks!