The best way to screen tenants is to attract the best prospects. A successful property tour is crucial to that process.
Not only must the property show well, but the landlord has to come across as organized and professional in order to close the deal.
Landlords want to find a tenant who will care for the property. Those same individuals will be reasonably discerning about where they live. They will want a property that looks and smells clean, and appears safe and well-kept.
When scheduling a showing, plan to arrive early to take a look around. Bring along a property showing toolkit, or stash one at the property, to deal with any last-minute contingencies that might arise.
Here is a list of items that should be included in the toolkit:
1. Carry an air freshener. Experienced property managers know that a unit that smells clean will look cleaner, too. Sprays are easy, but the candle variety can add ambiance to the room.
2. Bring a scented multipurpose cleaner, like Mrs. Meyers, or diluted vinegar in a spray bottle. Wipe it over dusty counters or randomly throughout the unit to spread the “clean” fragrance and add some shine.
3. An alternative to air fresheners: store a coffee maker and brew a pot just before the applicants arrive. Or, pop a food item into the oven — whatever it takes to produce a pleasant, “homey” feeling.
4. A small, hand-held vacuum is perfect for a quick pick-up. Whether it’s a dust bunny or a dead spider, unpleasant surprises scare away picky prospects.
5. A microfiber cloth works on anything from dusty blinds to giving a quick polish to a window.
6. A light bulb or two stored in a closet or in the toolkit can save the day if the exterior lighting has burned out. Applicants want to know their landlord is on top of security.
7. Store spare batteries for smoke detectors. Nothing says “neglect” like a smoke detector’s low-battery chirping.
8. A trash bag is handy for that abandoned coffee cup and other items left behind by workers or the last visitors.
9. A measuring tape, to solve the question, “Will my furniture fit here?”
The kit also should include a clipboard with the appropriate leasing paperwork. That will include:
10. A rental application. Bring one for each adult occupant.
11. A copy of the leasing rules, or a copy of the lease agreement for the tenant to review.
NOTE: It’s not a good idea to have the tenant sign the lease agreement on the spot before you have a chance to run tenant screening reports. Don’t get swept up in the moment and then later regret your choice of tenants.
12. A list of answers to commonly-asked questions. Start with a floor plan with room measurements, and identify the nearest access to public transportation. The list will expand as prospective tenants raise questions.
13. An easy-to-access business card with your contact information so the tenant can follow up.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.