You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of labels out there to describe today’s tenants — Millennial, Gen M, Gen X, Gen Z….
Sure, there are differences in renter demographics and landlords benefit from understanding the trends. For instance, most millennials (18-34 years old) are renters, so you’ll undoubtedly encounter one or two. Gen Z is approaching adulthood. They grew up attached to phones and tend to interact exclusively through social media. Gen Xers — those over 35 — remain a staple in the renter pool.
The only basic difference between these renters, of course, is lifestyle. Younger renters tend to be more transient, moving frequently for jobs and relationships. These renters may need more hand-holding through the leasing process than, say, the experienced Gen Xer who has a strong rental history. Nearly everyone is a Gen M — mobile technology user — and that requires making rental ads easily accessible and communicating in real time.
Keeping up with modern demographics may seem daunting, so whether your tenants are young or old, tech-savvy or old-school, you’ll be happy to know that these landlord rules never change:
1. Marketing is the same for every vacancy.
A vacancy is a vacancy, and a landlord should never target a specific rental applicant pool. The property should not be marketed as “perfect for ….” Targeting limits the pool of qualified rental applicants, and it’s illegal. But that makes life much easier — you don’t have to guess which Gen is the right one. The right tenant is the one who’s qualified.
Focus marketing efforts on describing the property, and allow applicants to decide if the property is right for them. That keeps the applicant pool large, and increases the chances of finding the right tenant.
2. Tenant screening is the same for each applicant.
Whether renting to a young student or to a 50-year-old professional, tenant screening policies must be applied the same way to each applicant. A landlord’s tenant screening policy can’t be modified to accommodate any specific trend in renter demographics. It doesn’t matter that some renters want to communicate solely online or want to remain anonymous. A landlord still must meet with a rental applicant face-to-face, verify identity, and determine if the person is qualified — they’ll pay rent and care for the property. Credit-worthiness must be confirmed by running a tenant credit report. It’s okay if the person has little credit, so long as there are no glaring red flags. Tenant-worthiness is confirmed by running eviction and criminal record checks, and speaking with the previous landlords. If the applicant is a first-time renter, then check other related references, like a former neighbor.
Bad tenants come from all walks of life, and a tenant background check is the only way to be sure you’re not renting to the tenant from hell.
3. Lease rules apply to every tenant.
Every tenant — young or old — has to follow the rules set out in the lease agreement. That doesn’t change because students want to throw parties or Gen Xers allow the kids to run wild. Landlords can set themselves up for tenant complaints by advertising to a specific group. For instance, catering to young professionals or students can create the wrong impression. Each tenant is part of a community, whether it’s an apartment complex or a neighborhood. Every new tenant needs to know the restrictions that are in place to keep the peace. Individual tenants need to understand that those rules apply to them, too. No one group can be singled out for special treatment.
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 is 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.