The ability to find great tenants can make or break a business. Whether you’re the landlord doing everything yourself or a property manager, attracting quality tenants is one of the most important things you can learn.
When it comes down to it, there are essentially three things to focus on: value, marketing and screening.
How to Get Good Tenants with Superior Value
When you’re trying to figure out what a renter wants, put yourself in their shoes. When you do, you’ll realize there are a few things they typically want in a home:
- Cleanliness (carpet, landscaping, paint, etc.)
- Style – that snot green paint in the living room may not work in your favor!
- Safety – if the area is known for lots of crime, you’ll struggle to attract great tenants
- Good schools – obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone, but it’s important to families with children
- Great condition- if the air conditioner breaks every other week in the summer, you’ll have one unhappy, sweaty tenant!
- Customer service – when your tenant calls with a question or needs help with something, how do you respond?
At the end of the day- great tenants will live (and stay) in a home where you’d also want to live. Not all of your properties have to be in tip-top shape, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
But there’s more to getting good tenants than just having a favorable property. After all, if nobody ever hears about it, you can’t expect to rent it out very often! That’s why the next section is so important.
How to Find Great Tenants- the Power of Marketing
Some business professionals will argue that great marketing is the most important business skill to learn. Even if a product is only mediocre in quality, or customer service isn’t great, marketing can carry a business or product to profitability.
The minimum level of marketing you should do is to verify that your property is found on various sites used by tenants to find a place to rent. A few examples are Zillow, Homes.com, and Rent.com. You can also put a sign in the property yard, and one at the entrance of the neighborhood (if applicable).
Just keep in mind that these methods are considered fairly reactive, because you’re counting on the tenants finding you. While it can work, taking a more proactive approach will help you find a good tenant faster.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Talk to Colleagues in the Industry- Other property managers, landlords, and Realtors may know of some great potential tenants.
- Talk to Friends and Family- Don’t take these connections for granted. Chances are good that someone in your network knows someone looking for a place to rent.
- Consider Paid Ads– Advertising companies can help you target the exact audience you’re looking for. Whether it’s a single young professional, a family with children or empty nesters, they can help you get in front of the right people.
If you have a great property and your marketing is in place, you’ll have tenants knocking at your door day and night. The last (but perhaps most important) step is the screening process.
How to Find Good Tenants Through Vigorous Screening
While it’s possible to kick out a bad tenant, it’s much easier to just prevent yourself from landing in that position in the first place.
The best way to do that is to screen your tenants. At the minimum, here are a few things you should aim for:
- Credit and Background Checks- These don’t tell the entire story about someone, but it certainly tells a lot! If they have a history of not paying bills on time, you can almost guarantee it will happen gain with you.
- Meet in Person- This isn’t about finding out what they look like- appearance doesn’t matter. A guy with tons of tattoos may be a perfect tenant. But you can get “vibes” from people in person that you just can’t feel over the phone.
- Look at Their Car – When you’re done showing the property, take a glance inside the potential tenant’s car. If it’s a mess, they’ll probably trash where they live- a.k.a. YOUR property!
- Talk to the Previous Landlords – Hopefully the current landlord is honest and gives you an idea of the quality of the tenant. Just keep in mind that if it’s a bad tenant, their previous landlord may say anything they can to get the tenant out of their property!