Finding Good Tenants: When Less is More

by Chris on August 26, 2013

Finding the right tenant is a numbers game — at least in theory. The more applicants you attract, the higher the likelihood that several of those will be good prospects. Or, at least it would seem.

But in practice, when finding a tenant, less can be more. Consider how long it takes to answer dozens of questions over the phone, or to sort and prioritize several rental applications, when all you need is one interested and qualified tenant. Fewer unqualified renters to reject and fewer applications to ponder means less time wasted — and more profit realized.

The perfect solution is to strike a balance by targeting those renters most likely to be a fit for the property.

Tenant Screening: Think Local

tenant screeningOne of the best tricks for finding quality tenants who will want to stay for the duration of the lease is to choose someone who has a connection to the neighbouring area, like work or schools.

While online ads are enticing — after all, these are free to use and cast a wide net — they also can capture scores of unqualified renters. This is especially true when vacancy rates fall. Many of those applicants will call without any recollection of which ad they responded to, or where your particular property is located. A prospect like that may be more of a risk.

Don’t let online ads prevent you from using other valuable tools at your disposal. Nurturing tenant referrals is a far more targeted and successful approach to finding your next tenant. The same is true of referrals from other residents in the surrounding neighbourhood who may have seen your ‘for rent’ sign or a flyer on a community bulletin board. That same flyer placed at local schools or employers can generate a steady flow of qualified candidates who are keenly interested in the property.

Looking at local options doesn’t mean you have to rent only to natives. A person does have to be from the area to be a good tenant. But if an applicant has an interest in the location first, and then the property, the chances for a successful tenancy are increased.

Are Your Turning Away Good Rental Prospects?

View every tenant as a blank slate. It’s simply not cost effective to pass on qualified applicants because you are holding out for the “ideal” tenant. That ideal may not be realistic. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the right tenant. For instance, the young professional you envisioned as the perfect fit for your property may be too distracted with work to care for the property, or turns out to be noisy, or overly demanding. The young family or senior citizen that you turned away could have been the perfect fit.

The same is true of leasing policies that scare away good prospects. For instance, surveys have shown a strong demand for smoke-free rental housing. As many as 78% of Ontario households don’t allow smoking indoors, and that statistic holds in other provinces as well.

Studies prove that more than half of renters want to keep a pet. With some retrofitting, it is possible to pet-proof rental properties to minimize the risk of damage from pets. Pet-friendly amenities like a dog walking area onsite can put you in the center of this popular trend.

By offering tenants what they want, you avoid chasing away the best prospects.

Show You Are There to Serve

Keep in mind that the tenant interview goes both ways. Tenants are looking for more than a roof over their heads — they are looking for good service from the landlord. Convey your enthusiasm for the property, and set a good example by caring for it. By spelling out rules of conduct, prospective tenants see that you run a tight ship — and that goes a long way towards building a good reputation. Then, the process becomes circular. The better you are at your job, the more tenants who will offer referrals, and the less time you have to spend filling vacancies.

Landlord Tip: Regardless of how you find your new tenants, don’t neglect to conduct a tenant background check, including credit checks and previous landlord references. The new tenants could be hiding something, even from their closest friends.

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.

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