Whether you’ve just invested in real estate and are getting ready to rent it out for the first time or you’re an experienced landlord, you can always use some tips on finding the best tenants. Finding renters might seem easy, especially if you’re in a booming city, but there’s actually more to it than you might think. After all, you are taking on a big risk by letting someone live in your property.
From listing your property in the right places, to thoroughly vetting tenants, there are quite a few things you can do to reduce your risk of renting to the wrong person, starting with these tried and true tips:
Part 1: Listing Your Rental
While listing your rental might seem pretty straight forward, there’s more to it than just putting it online and walking away. To make your rental listings as effective as possible, you should:
- Be selective about where you list. Listing your rental property as many places as possible will get you the widest selection of applicants to sift through, but some directories may turn up more serious renters than others. Instead of placing ads on Craigslist, try using official directories or even your own property management site to advertise your rentals.
- Target your listing to your ideal rental demographic. While we’re not recommending that you discriminate against any potential renters, you can list your property on sites that cater to certain crowds. For example, if you’d prefer the peace of mind of renting to an older crowd, there are sites for senior apartment listings; or, for short-term renters you could list on sites that cater to flight attendants and traveling nurses.
- Go into as much detail as possible. A detailed rental listing will help you weed out a lot of wasted time on your end. Provide a full list of requirements, expectations, amenities, and details about the space. This way people will have a good idea of what to expect before they submit an application or do a walk-through.
Part 2: Vetting Renters
One of the biggest risks for landlords is non-paying tenants that then need to be evicted. As you may know, evictions are notoriously difficult and can be a financial burden on landlords, on top of having to cover your mortgage out of pocket. To help protect yourself, there are a few things you can do:
- Check references: By calling previous landlords, you can get a better idea for the renter’s character, payment history, and major red flags like breaking the terms of their lease. Some property managers will only send you a report on the tenant, but if you do have the chance to speak with them, have a few questions prepared to get the information you want to know quickly.
- Run background checks: A background check complete with an eviction lookup can help you confirm that the applicant is who they say they are, they have a decent credit history, and whether they’ve been evicted before. Just keep in mind that there are rules for running background checks, like you have to get the person’s approval first.
- Meet them in person: It’s one thing to email with someone, but it’s another to get a feel for their personality by physically showing them the rental. This will give you an opportunity to ask them some questions and generally see what your interactions would be like. If you can’t meet with them due to COVID-19 concerns, set up a Zoom introduction and virtual walk-through where you can still get some face time.
- Make sure their income is stable: Another way to lower your risk of renting your property is choosing a tenant who has a stable source of income. While there is always the risk that someone could lose their job, it’s often less likely to be an issue if they’ve been with the same job for a few years or have multiple streams of income to rely on.
While you can’t ever have a full guarantee that you’ve found the perfect tenant, implementing these best practices will help you find higher-quality renters that you can feel more confident renting to. It might take a little longer to find the right tenants, but the small amount of time and money you sacrifice now will pay off in the long run when you can rely on them to pay rent consistently, keep your property in tip-top condition, and potentially stay in your rental longer. Trust us, the peace of mind is worth a little bit of extra work.