The key to successful rental property tours is understanding that showing a property for rent is not the same as showing a property for sale.
For one thing, the landlord and tenant must forge a relationship that could last for years; buyers and sellers likely will sign papers and then go their separate ways. A seller’s profits are wrapped into the highest possible sales price; for a landlord, the profit is tied to how much time is spent managing the tenant once the lease is signed.
And unlike sellers, landlords will remain responsible for the property, and suffer the consequences that come from any damage that occurs if the tenant is not a good fit.
It helps to have a pre-planned tour in mind, freeing up the landlord to focus on sizing up the tenant.
Always prequalify and prescreen applicants before agreeing to a tour. That includes verifying the person’s identity, checking that they have sufficient income to afford the rent, and confirming that they are ready to move.
Don’t rush the curb appeal aspect of the property. While outside, point to nearby amenities like public transportation, and tout the security features of the property — motion sensor lights or well-maintained deadbolts for instance.
Don’t start the tour in the common areas. If the tenant doesn’t grow interested in the unit, touring common areas was a waste of time and an unnecessary imposition on other tenants.
Follow the natural flow of the property. It may seem strange to enter from the side or back of a unit. A natural flow is typically curbside or front entry, kitchen to living area, bedrooms and baths, and then to the outside yard, balcony, or garage. If the tenant is interested, go into the common areas.
As you walk through the property, point out both storage and safety features — two priorities for tenants.
Be prepared to answer the common questions, like which wall the bed fits against, what sized bed will fit in the room, or perhaps the overall square footage. If the unit is submetered, renters may ask about the average cost of utilities. (In some cases, the landlord is legally required to disclose that information.)
Be careful not to ‘oversell’ the tenant on the property. If it’s not a good fit, they may end up being a problem tenant. Answer questions where that’s helpful, but don’t make excuses for the property. For instance, if the tenant thinks the unit is short on storage, point out other storage options that might be available. If the tenant thinks the property is too small for their needs, don’t try to convince them it’s not.
One crucial question for tenants is how they will get along with their new landlord. Tenants don’t want to live in fear that repairs will be ignored or the landlord will be difficult. Be friendly and welcoming, but remain professional and don’t tolerate unreasonable demands for concessions. If an applicant appears hesitant or overly demanding, don’t push. Rest assured the right tenant will come along.
Listen to objections applicants may raise during a tour, and make note of any changes that could be made before the next applicant walks through the property.
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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.