The end of the year is prime time for planning. As you review 2014 and make plans for 2015, consider some ways that you can improve your efficiency and boost your profit margins. Combine these tips for a winning strategy in 2015:
1. Make a resolution to always speak to an applicant’s current and previous landlords. With so many tenant-from-hell stories in the news, you simply cannot afford to skip this crucial step in the tenant screening process.
2. Do some socializing this year. A landlord reference isn’t the only reason to speak with others in your industry. Reach out on LinkedIn, or join a landlord or property management association in your area. You’ll get up-to-date information and a chance to trade ideas and strategies. Landlords find strength in numbers.
3. Focus more attention on completing condition reports at move-in and move-out. Property damage and condition are at the hear of many disputes with tenants. Make it easy to win an argument through good documentation. In the process, you will reduce the likelihood the tenant will fight.
4. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to handle security deposits is to plan on returning the full amount. If you think the money will cover your losses, you are setting yourself up for fall. Don’t allow a false sense of security over the security deposit lull you into taking shortcuts when it comes to screening tenants and managing the property. Help the tenant understand what is expected when they move out. A security deposit is an effective incentive only if the tenant believes they will get it back.
5. Regular property inspections are the only way to keep a handle on property management throughout the tenancy. You want to know early if you have a bad tenant on your hands, especially when that tenant is using your property for criminal activity.
6. Build community with your tenants. Keep in touch with a monthly email or post newsletters around the property. Set up a website or Facebook page for tenants to visit. Send rent invoices and include pertinent information. Regular communication is key to happy tenants and more profitable rental properties.
7. Don’t put off long-term maintenance. A tight rental market may lead to more long-term tenants. The downside to tenant retention is neglected repairs and updates. Regular rents mean healthy cash flow, but remember that you also earn income through appreciation in property value. That won’t happen if the property begins to deteriorate due to lack of repair and updates.
8. Pet owners can make responsible tenants. If you’ve never tried pet-friendly at your properties, this may be the year to reconsider. As you screen tenants with pets, you are sure to find some who are as careful with the home they
live in as they are with the pets they love. A few updates can make your property
more resilient to damage from pets — and from people at the same.
9. Understand why you are running tenant credit checks. Don’t just look at ticking a box. A credit report is more than a number or score. This is your best measure of an applicant’s level of financial responsibility. The information in the applicant’s credit report also can expose tenants-from-hell who are hiding details of their rental history.
10. Focus on safety, like peephole covers, and good lighting. Safety is one of the most important deciding factors for today’s renters. Be sure to highlight these features when you show the property to prospects.
11. Get online. Today, most prospective tenants are finding homes online. Take a look at what your competitors are doing with rental ads and websites. It’s also crucial to see what people are saying about the property. Are you listed on ratings websites? Are angry tenants discouraging others from applying for your vacancies? Respond to negative press with positive, proactive comments, and you can turn things around.
12. Conduct a tenant survey and learn if your tenants would prefer a smoking ban.
13. Offer electronic rent payment options. Many tenants prefer automatic payments or digital options. The more options you offer, the better your chances of regular, on-time rent payments.
14. Change your perception of the perfect tenant. Each applicant should be a blank slate. Otherwise, you are likely to fall in love with the one who has the right life story or look, and cut corners on tenant screening. That’s how bad tenants take advantage of new landlords. At the same time, you could be turning away your better prospects because they don’t fit your subjective expectations. Good tenant are able to afford the rent, take their financial responsibilities seriously, get along with others and take care of the property. Stick with what matters.
15. Write things down. Creating a list or keeping a day-timer not only keeps you on task, it creates a paper trail. Documentation is a critical tool when it comes to winning tenant disputes. Good tenant files also will help bolster the resale value of your rental property when the time comes to sell.
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).
Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.
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.