Property tours may seem routine, and not all landlords view them as part of the tenant screening process. Yet, the tour presents an opportunity to vet rental applicants and to set the stage for a successful tenancy.
One of the most important steps in both tenant screening and property tours is verifying the identity of the rental applicant. This requires a prequalification meeting at a neutral location where the applicant presents a photo ID. Not only does this help to verify that the person is not about to commit fraud, but the additional scrutiny may discourage someone with criminal intent.
Individual property tours offer a better opportunity to screen tenants than an open house format. While open houses can create a sense of urgency or increase competition for a unit, that only works effectively if each person attending has been prequalified.
Otherwise, it can be difficult to keep track of multiple rental applicants, and information that could flag a bad tenant might fall through the cracks. Also, open houses present possible security issues for the landlord or leasing agent because criminals gain easy access and remain anonymous.
During the tour, try not to focus on selling the prospect on the property. Instead, pay attention to the information that the applicant discloses. Has the story changed since the first meeting? Is the applicant interested in the property? A lack of questions can signal a tenant who simply isn’t interested, or, it could be that this tenant is not planning to stick around for long.
It is generally better to enter the property and tour the unit from front to back, the same way the tenant would come home each day. Outline in advance the features that most tenants are going to like about the property, so that your presentation can be concise.
For instance, point out storage and security features which are often top priorities.
On the exterior, point to security locks or gates, lighting, or parking features. End with proximity to community resources like public transportation.
By keeping the tour organized, you will appear more professional and knowledgeable, and that goes a long way towards developing a good landlord-tenant relationship.
Show the unit first before proceeding to show any common areas or detailing any features of the property. Otherwise, you may be wasting your time, and there is no need to infringe on other tenants’ privacy.
Create a FAQ sheet that addresses common questions is a time-saver, and improves the landlord’s image. Information may include a sketch of the layout along with measurements for the applicant’s reference when fitting furniture, average utility costs, cable provider, cost of laundry and so on.
Don’t try to sell the tenant on the property. If the prospect is not bonding with the property, that will come out later — days down the road, after you’ve already turned away other prospects. Do ask the applicant about objections, and where possible, offer suggestions to resolve those objections. But stop there, and allow the tenant to decide if the unit is right for them.
Be prepared to discuss policies and rules with applicants in case they want to take it to the next level.
If the applicant is not interested, find out why. Try to resolve those possible objections before you schedule another property tour, and lose another prospect.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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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.