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Finding Tenants

How To Find Good Tenants Fast: The Ultimate Guide

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There are a lot of things that landlords need to worry about when it comes to finding new tenants for their rentals. How long will it take to secure new tenants? Will they pay the rent on time? What if they damage the property or don’t report maintenance issues in a timely fashion? What if you have to evict them?

While there’s no way for landlords to be absolutely certain that a renter is going to be the “perfect tenant”, there are a few things that can be done to increase the odds. From efficiently managing tenant applications to running thorough tenant screenings to making the renting process easy.

In this article, we detail everything you need to know about how to find and keep great tenants. We’ve even got lease templates, details on how to run tenant screenings as well as advice on managing your communications with your tenants to ensure both parties are kept happy.

How to find the best tenants infographic
 

What makes a good tenant?

When selecting a tenant, you want to ensure that they can and will pay rent on time and in full every single month and that they will look after your property.

There are several ways you can determine this, including running a credit check to get an idea of their financial responsibility, requesting proof of their current income (generally, you’re looking to ensure the tenants earn a minimum of 3x the monthly rent amount), and looking at their previous rental history to see if they have previously paid rent on time.

Secondary concerns to think about include assessing whether or not the prospective tenant will be tidy and respectful of your property during their tenancy. Though this is harder to determine, you can again look at indicating factors such as rental and eviction history.

Factors you can’t use to judge a tenant

When setting your tenant standard you must make sure not to discriminate against any of the protected classes. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the purchase, sale, rental, or financing of housing – private or public – based on race, skin color, sex, nationality, or religion. The statute has been amended several times, including in 1988 to add disability and family status.

You can however use the following factors to set qualifying criteria for tenants:

  • A minimum income requirement (eg. 2-3x monthly rent);
  • Eviction history;
  • Prior felonies;
  • Credit score;
  • Landlord references.

1. How to find good tenants with a quality listing

In order to find good tenants, you need to create a rental listing that will generate interest in your property. The better your rental listing the more interest and the higher the quality of applicant you are likely to get.

You can now create rental listings with Landlord Studio. Find out more here →

As such, to find a renter your very first step is writing your rental listing and gathering the assets eg. the photography of the property that will make it stand out from the crowd and encourage great tenants to enquire immediately.

Writing a great listing when looking for tenants

Write a catchy title that includes the price, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and type of property. Highlight a great feature of the property to make it really stand out.

Eg. $800pm – 2 bed/1 bath apartment with balcony and skyline views of the city in Old Chicago Town

Write a short description in which you:

  • Highlight the property’s best features eg. is it near downtown, near parks, or has schools close by? Does it have tall ceilings, a usable fireplace, en suites, or a garden?
  • Use positive descriptive words such as beautiful, cozy, intimate, spacious, traditional, funky, etc.
  • Talk about the neighborhood – why would they want to live in this area? Is it professional, fun, quiet, vibrant?
  • Describe what’s nearby – parks, universities, bars, restaurants, schools, train lines,
    Give an exciting detail – large garden, beautiful views, balcony, hardwood floors, new renovations, etc
  • Give details about the rental – are pets allowed? What’s the smoking policy? Are utilities included? How much is the deposit?
  • Outline how renters should get in contact to express their interest. Include details of the application process, the credit and background check process and fee, plus a contact name and number.

Getting photos to find good tenants

Your photography is your first impression. Bad photography will dramatically reduce your chances of capturing interest and reduce the quality of applicants and the number. Some useful tips are:

  • Always include multiple photos
  • Photograph all of the major rooms.
  • Make sure it’s tidy and photographs show off the best elements. Eg. there is a balcony with a view make sure there are photos that show it.
  • Think about the lighting – you will want to photograph the property during the day when there is plenty of natural light.
  • Think about hiring a professional.
  • Include a floor plan.
  • Consider including video tours.

Keep your rental property description concise. Use short sentences and paragraphs and make sure that the text is easily skimmable. Avoid using all caps and exclamation marks and ensure the listing is grammatically correct.

 

2. Set your applicant criteria

Setting predetermined minimum criteria for your prospective renters will make it easier for you to judge applicants on allowable factors, like credit score and rental history.

If none of your prospective tenants meets the standards then you should continue showing the property. If multiple tenants meet the pre-described standards then you should simply rent to the first of the qualifying tenants that applied. Bear in mind the Fair Housing Act as outlined above.

Your criteria might look like this for example:

  • Credit score requirement: 650+
  • No previous evictions on record.
  • Monthly income of 3x the rent.
  • No felonies.

Be strict, and apply your criteria fairly to every single applicant. If for any reason you do decide to lower your standards, for example, the property might have been empty for too long, then think about increasing the deposit (check your local laws to determine maximum deposits), or even getting a cosigner.

3. How To Find Tenants With Online Listings

Find renters on Zillow

Zillow is one of the biggest property listing websites in the US and it’s free to list on. The features include an interactive map and allow prospective tenants to compare two properties side by side.

Find renters on Craigslist

Craigslist is where many people turn for everything from jobs to accommodation. It’s an inexpensive option and allows you to word your listing in your own way. The main problem is that not everyone will be serious when they inquire and that can take up a lot of time.

Find renters on Facebook

Facebook’s more recent updates are leaning towards pushing their groups and their marketplace, so listing on the marketplace and pushing through Facebook’s relevant groups is a surefire way to reach a large audience.

Related: 11 Websites For Managing Your Rental Listings

Create a rental listing with Landlord Studio

With Landlord Studio you can easily create beautiful marketing websites for your rental properties. Show off your property exactly how you want to and easily collect tenant applicants and manage them in one place. Plus, easily share your listing’s unique URL across key websites to get it in front of as many potential renters as possible.

Create rental listings with Landlord Studio. Find out more here →

 

4. Collect and manage tenant applicants

Having an efficient and professional application process is essential if you want to secure the best tenants. Tenants will likely be looking at numerous properties at the same time. If your application process is too slow a more prepared landlord may secure the tenant first, leaving you with your second or even third choices.

At the same time, it doesn’t make sense to put every potential tenant through the same expensive and time-consuming screening process. You need a way to quickly filter out unqualified tenants.

The easiest way to do this is to collect and manage your applicants using Landlord Studio. Tenants can apply and enquire via the Landlord Studio website, and you can use our built-in prescreening questionnaire to efficiently glean all the information you need to make a preliminary decision.

Easily run a prescreening questionnaire with Landlord Studio. Collect and manage tenant applicants in one place and filter out time-wasters.  Find out more here →

 

5. Run a comprehensive tenant screening process

Once you’ve identified qualified tenants, you can then easily run a tenant screening report with Landlord Studio.

We supply a comprehensive TransUnion tenant screening report which includes everything you need to know to make an informed decision including:

  • Credit Score
  • ResidentScore
  • SSN Verification
  • Address History
  • Nationwide Criminal & Sex Offender Search
  • Nationwide Evictions
  • Bankruptcies

Completed reports can be reviewed via the app or desktop software allowing you to streamline the process and ensure you fill your vacancies fast with the very best tenants.

How To Run A Background & Credit Check using Landlord Studio – a lesson from our Tenant Screening Secrets coaching program.

 

6. Final checks

Talk to their previous landlords

Landlord reference checks are a great way to discover what kind of tenant an applicant is. Often landlords can give you insights that even the most detailed tenant screening report couldn’t give you. For example, they might constantly complain about minor issues, or be very loud and cause issues with neighbors.

Or, while they might not have been through an eviction, they may have regularly been late with rent payments. Going the extra distance to contact their previous landlord can help you avoid issues like this.

Corroborate their story on public platforms

You can often get a good sense of the type of tenant someone is going to be by quickly Googling them and checking their social profiles like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. For example, they might have said they work as an accountant, but when you look on LinkedIn there is no evidence of this, and their career history doesn’t support this either.

 

7. Sign an airtight lease

The lease is the legal document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. It allows the tenant to occupy and use the property for a specific period of time under certain conditions.
In this way, the lease forms a layer of legal protection for both parties and ensures that both landlord and tenant are clear in their roles towards the property. For example, there might be a joint and several liabilityclauses, or the details of the landlord’s pet policy. Having the rules clearly outlined upfront will help ensure neither party breaks them.

Download Our Free Lease Template
 

8. Welcome letter and welcome package

Once you’ve secured an awesome tenant you want to make sure the moving in process goes off without a hitch.

Sending through a detailed welcome letter that outlines the key things they need to know about the house is a great start.

Your welcome letter should provide the following information:

  • Next steps and move-in details;
  • Setting up utilities;
  • Reminder about renters insurance;
  • How to pay rent
  • How to report maintenance issues;
  • Information on garbage collection;
  • Parking information – if relevant;
  • Neighborhood guidance;
  • Contact info.
Download Our Free Welcome Letter

Following that, something that often yields great ROI is leaving a welcome package for your tenants upon move-in.

Include your welcome letter as well as a few other things like:

  • Cleaning supplies;
  • Information about the area;
  • Local take-out restaurant menus;
  • A small appropriate gift.
 

Final words: how to find good tenants

It’s not enough to simply secure great tenants. In order to avoid going through this whole process every year (or even more frequently with costly evictions), there are a few things that you can do to ensure your tenant has a stress-free renting experience and wants to stay in your property for longer. 

The first thing to consider is ensuring you have an efficient method for collecting rent. With rent collection being the number one reason for evictions in the US, employing a system like Landlord Studio to help reduce missed and late rent payments is a no-brainer.

Find out how to collect rent with Landlord Studio.

Secondly, ensure that maintenance requests are responded to and handled quickly. Again these tasks can be tracked and prioritized in Landlord Studio to help you ensure you never let even small tasks slip through the cracks.

Find out how to streamline your property maintenance management with Landlord Studio.

Finally, one of the main reasons tenants choose to move is because of what they deem unfair rent raises. So, whilst it’s good business sense to raise the rent regularly by small amounts to keep the rent in line with the current market rates, significant raises will often have your tenants checking out. The subsequent vacancy could end up costing you more than the rent raise would make you.

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Ben Luxon

Ben is the editor and lead writer for Landlord Studio. He has worked with real estate professionals all over the world and written educational articles on tech, real estate, and financial growth for sites such as Forbes, TechBullion, and Business Magazine.

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