5 Steps for Attracting Good Tenants

by Chris on April 9, 2012

By Marv Steier

The key to maximizing profitability and minimizing risk as a landlord has a lot to do with choosing the right tenant.

That starts with advertising, and there are a few tricks to creating effective advertisements to help find the best tenants for your properties. You can advertise in the newspaper, on billboards, or on the Internet; however, you may be wasting your time and money advertising to people who either aren’t interested in what you have to offer, or aren’t qualified to meet your criteria.

A good ad campaign lets you target and attract the kind of tenant you’re looking for.

Here are some tips to help you identify your ideal tenants and develop strategies to find them:

Step 1 – Identify and understand your ideal tenant

An advertisement works best when it’s appealing. So, before you decide what information to incorporate, think about what characteristics you value in a tenant. Here are some good examples:

Stable employment

Pays rent on time

Has never been evicted or used a landlord as a revolving line of credit

Maintains rental to your requirements

Communicates immediately when repairs are needed

Takes responsibility for tenant-related issues and knows what those responsibilities are

Quiet and mindful of you and other tenants

Respects rules and regulations

No smoking

No pets

Step 2 – Create effective advertising

Once you’ve identified characteristics you like in good tenants, think about what factors contribute to a good rental experience for landlord and tenant. What did you as the landlord have to offer your last tenant? Was the last tenant happy and satisfied? Assessing this information will help you decide how to focus your rental ad.

For example, let’s say you’ve determined that your ideal tenants have almost always had younger children, enjoyed a secure and clean environment and worked downtown. A good strategy then would be to advertise benefits that appeal to those types of tenants such as “near parks and schools”, “secure, well maintained rental”, “close to downtown”, “secure, well-maintained rental looking for ideal tenant”, or ” secure, well -maintained rental with caring and professional landlord”.

Look at other ads that stand out. Your ad needs to make a statement and be different. What will make a tenant read and respond to your ad?

Step 3 – Find “model” tenants

Once you’ve identified some advertising strategies to attract your ideal tenant, you will need to consider the best medium to reach them — Internet rental sites, classified newspaper ads, referrals, college/university websites or publications, landlord association websites such as EAA or associations from across the country.

Step 4 – Continually expand your “model” tenant ideals

Identifying common characteristics of a good tenant and establishing that as your criteria is not an argument for discrimination. As the anti-discrimination laws remind us, don’t judge a book by its cover. Keep in mind that the more you are able to expand upon the qualities and characteristics of good tenants, the more low risk tenants you will be able to target and attract. Create your criterion and use it each time you advertise for a new tenant.

To summarize, you want to spend some time identifying ideal tenants, creating ads that will attract them, and determining the best & most efficient ways to get your property information in front of tenants who desire the amenities you offer, want to live in your area, and can afford the rent.

Step 5 – Don’t waste your time with high risk tenants

Often you will attract high risk tenants who use landlords as a revolving line of credit when advertising your rental property, so it is imperative that you attempt to identify these tenants on the telephone. It’s a good idea to advise a prospective tenant on the telephone that all applicants must meet your landlord criteria that includes tenant screening such as a credit check, and inquiries with current and previous landlords to determine late payments or non-payment of rent.

If a prospective tenant is truly tenant-worthy he or she will proceed with the application process. This criteria and the questions below will save you time and money as it tends to eliminate individuals who you don’t want to rent to.

In addition to advising the prospective tenant of your criteria as noted above, here are some questions you might ask:

Why are you moving?

Where do you work and how long have you been employed there?

Self-employed? I will require last year’s T-4/W-2 then to establish income.

Have you been evicted before or left a landlord stuck with unpaid rental fees?

Do you smoke? Own pets?

The pursuit of an ideal tenant then will include:

A rental ad that has ability to attract the right tenants

Tenant screening that includes credit checks to determine credit worthiness

Tenant screening that includes phone calls to current and previous landlords to determine tenant worthiness

Deterrent and incentive forms from www.tenantverification.com

You only have to set up this process one time. Then, it might need tweaking, but it takes less time and is far less expensive than all the hassles, valuable resources and money spent chasing a high risk tenant or non paying tenant.

Members of www.tenantverification.com can report tenant pay habits on a monthly basis, which further serves to minimize risk of income loss.

For more ideas, visit www.tenantsinfo.com, an educational website for landlords and tenants. Where tenants & landlords know their responsibilities and rights, the rental experience is a more pleasant one.

Marv Steier is President of TVS Tenant Verification Service Inc.

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.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

chris s April 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

Good article. What is a T-4? Is this used in the US and if not what is the equilvalent?

Chris April 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Hi Chris,
A T-4 is the same as a W-2 — an annual wage statement issued by the employer. Sorry for the confusion —

Becky April 18, 2012 at 7:53 am

Mr. Steier, I’m a landlord of residental and commercial property both investment properties. I subscribed to your site about 6 years ago and refer to it often. I find the site to be most informative and learn something each time I read an article written by you. I use all you your forms and do all the recommended credit and background checks. I do believe because of following “YOUR” advice I have NEVER received a late payment nor have I received an insuffient check. You are correct….Screen, Screen and Screen some more. Our properties (in my case anyway) did not come cheap nor handed to me thus we must have good honest and respectable tenants. But to all you landlords out there…I jump for my tentants, after all it is still my property and I want it well maintained for one. You treat others the way you would want to be treated, after all if your tenant is doing ALL that is required of them and in my case & more, why would you not want to keep them happy and they choose to extend their lease for another 2, 3, or maybe even 5 years. Win win situation. Besides, wouldnt you be ashamed of being referred to as a scumlord.
Thanks for your articles THEY ARE paying off for me!

Good Luck to all & God Bless

Marv April 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Becky thanks for your words of wisdom and shared experience. I am doing a presentation this weekend at a Real Estate Forum in Toronto Canada. If you don’t mind I am going to use your information for one of the slides to emphasize the importance of being an effective/responsible landlord that includes what you mentioned. Thank you and much continued success. A big thank you to Chris who puts a lot of time and research into these articles.

Jill May 15, 2012 at 6:03 am

Self-employed individuals will not have a W-2. In the US, the landlord should request a copy of the applicant’s Schedule C of their tax return to establish income.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: