Every landlord seeks that dream tenant: the one who pays on time (or early!), keeps the property spotless, and is respectful to neighbors.
Tenants like this do exist, but it’s up to you to attract them. And you do so by putting in a lot of legwork up front, considering who you’d like to attract and doing your due diligence during the application process.
Here are 8 ways to attract top-tier tenants:
1. Show a clean property
Anytime a tenant moves out, you should give the property a thorough scrubbing. Make sure to also clean the carpets and floors, freshen up the paint, and address any landscaping issues. You’d be surprised how many landlords don’t bother with this, or how many do the bare minimum, and at how easily you can stand out.
When you show a clean, well cared-for property, you also set the standard. Tenants will know this is what you expect. In turn, you’ll attract a better clientele; top tenants don’t apply to properties with stains in the floors and holes in the walls.
2. Maintenance matters
Everyone wants to know the property has been well-maintained, and top tenants will insist upon it. Make sure the furnace or boiler has been serviced, the septic pumped, and the roof doesn’t leak. If there’s a sidewalk, make sure it’s safe.
Smaller items matter as well. Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and that any leaking faucets are fixed. Hang mini blinds (the tenant can add their personal touch with curtains later). Make sure all windows work properly and that no panes are cracked.
Again, you set the tone. Top tenants will insist these items are taken care of. Desperate tenants will overlook these things in a bid to get into any property that will accept them. Which group would you rather rent to?
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3. Include appliances
Most tenants either don’t want to or can’t invest in appliances; perhaps they’re renting while they save up for a purchase, or they simply don’t have the cash available after putting down a security deposit and one month’s rent plus moving expenses.
You can set yourself apart by offering amenities that others don’t. In addition to a refrigerator (standard amenity), consider including a dishwasher, especially if your property appeals to families. You can go even further and include a washer and dryer, which many properties don’t have.
4. Stay up-to-date
For appliances, stainless steel is a nice touch; meanwhile, avocado green is a dead giveaway that the dishwasher is old.
Same for toilets and baths. It’s a little bit of up-front cost to replace the toilets, but it’s not difficult and will pay dividends when you go to rent the property. Prospective tenants notice, and honestly…they’d rather not have a pink toilet.
It’s also fairly easy to update lighting and hardware; new knobs can make a big difference in the look of kitchen cabinets, for example, and are an inexpensive update. You can often paint the cabinets, too, rather than replace them.
You should also give the place a fresh coat of paint anytime a tenant moves out. It’s an easy thing to do and makes the whole property feel brighter and cleaner.
One more item that often gets overlooked: change the locks. Just because you require former tenants to hand in their keys doesn’t mean there aren’t extra copies floating around. Your new tenants will feel better knowing there are new locks on the doors.
5. Make communication a priority
A top complaint among tenants is when a landlord is difficult to reach and slow to respond to maintenance or repair requests.
Demonstrate how easy you are to reach — or how easy the property manager is to reach, if applicable. You can invest in property management software to aid in this. You can make rental payments easier this way as well; let technology make you more efficient.
6. Advertise effectively
You attract top tenants by showing off a top-notch property in your advertising.
Write an attention-grabbing headline and include detailed, benefit-rich descriptions of the property. Make sure you accentuate the positives of your rental — you can emphasize that it’s close to public transportation, shopping, or schools, for example.
Be mindful of what you can and cannot say, too; you can’t say “good schools,” but you can mention that the location is near such-and-such elementary school. Make sure you’re up-to-date on what’s allowable in your language.
Use photos that are bright and clear. Most prospective tenants will find you online and will do most of their research there before ever contacting you or visiting the property; photos are a huge part of that. Give them a great virtual walk-through.
Consider hiring a professional photographer to take photos. It’s a rather inexpensive investment that can pay off big-time.
7. Conduct routine inspections
Make sure you check on your property regularly, and let tenants know ahead of time that you’ll be doing so. Not only is it good to keep on top of your property’s condition, it’s also one way to weed applicants out.
High-quality tenants will be glad to know you stay on top of things and will be happy to let you in; lower-quality tenants tend to prefer the landlord stays away.
8. Screen, screen, screen
Of course, none of the above matters if you don’t bother to screen your tenants. Always conduct background checks and run credit reports, and if you do it for one, do it for everyone; not only is it thorough, it’s the law. You must do the same for everyone who comes through.
Give everyone the same forms to fill out and ask everyone the same questions. Again, make sure you understand what you are and aren’t allowed to discuss and stay on top of the laws and ethics involved with renting a property.
Successful landlording, like anything else, is a matter of paying attention to details. Good research and planning wards off most problems, or at least catches them while they’re small rather than after they’ve snowballed.
Top-tier tenants are attracted to top-tier landlords. Have a vision of your ideal tenant before you even purchase a property, then keep that vision in mind throughout the process. Being clear about your end goal will help you make good decisions along the way and lends itself to a long and prosperous career.
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