Finding and choosing a great tenant isn’t easy. Finding the right tenant, is an art and a science. While no method is foolproof, there are a few key factors landlords should employ to find a great tenant for their rental. By following these five tips, you’ll attract a great tenant that is an ideal match for your property.
First and foremost, landlords must always treat prospective tenants equally and in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Act. That means, as a landlord, you cannot discriminate against tenants based on race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
In addition, many states have their own laws, so be sure to lease your property in accordance with your local laws.
Consider Your Property
When you chose to rent out your property, you should have spent some time thinking about who the ideal tenants are for the unit, neighborhood, and your business and personal goals. Is your property in a family neighborhood and a group of college students are seeking to rent it out? Perhaps your unit is in a rowdy building, and a family with young children is looking to rent it. Or maybe it’s a one-bedroom apartment, and the applicants are a family of four. In any of these scenarios, the applicants are neither your ideal renter nor a good match for your property. That’s why it’s important to keep this perfect tenant profile in mind.
As always, be sure you are objective. Looking at the logistics of a poor match is fine, but you should never discriminate against a tenant.
Write the Right Listing
A well-written and properly advertised rental listing will attract renters to your property –– but be sure you’re carefully crafting your listing, and posting it in the right places. It’s not enough to sell the rental opportunity. You must choose the phrasing and benefits of the home carefully, so you attract the ideal tenant. By describing the property as a quiet, two-story home in a great school district, you’ll likely deter the rowdy college co-eds looking for off-campus housing.
Confirm Their Credit
Your income property is just that, an income stream for you. That means your first concern should be protecting your asset and ensuring that you are paid for its use. Choosing a tenant who has strong credit indicates they are financially responsible. If they’re responsible for paying their bills, likely, they will also pay their rent on time and be respectful of your apartment.
Conducting a credit check is two-fold; first, you should verify their income by asking for copies of paystubs, as well as confirming this information with their employer directly. Also, you’ll need to run the actual credit check. A credit check will tell you if they have a history of paying their bills on time. This is a good indication of if they’ll pay you on time. A credit check also sheds light on their income to debt ratio, giving you a pretty clear picture of if they will be able to afford their rent.
Run a Criminal Background Check
Think of running a background check as the companion piece to a credit check. It’s equally as necessary, and you cannot and should not proceed to lease your property without it. Criminal information is public record and can be accessed with a simple search, turning up both serious and minor infractions.
A thorough criminal check will include everything from federal court to statewide and county searches, as well as searching the sexual offender database to help you choose a great tenant. It’s incredibly important to run all of these searches, as you’ll be protecting not only your investment property but also yourself and your neighbors from potential harm.
As always, be sure you follow your state and local laws, as they vary.
Consult with Past Landlords to Choose a Great Tenant
Ideally, you’ll consult with two of their previous landlords. Ask if they paid their rent on time, and how long they stayed. If they broke their lease, was it with cause? Did they get along with the neighbors? All of these questions, and more, will help give you an understanding of if the prospective tenants are good tenants and the right ones for you.