Landlords have quite a responsibility when searching for the right rental tenant. Their property is an investment, so the search to find the ‘right’ tenant can become quite an exercise in rental dating; placing listings, screening eligible candidates, going through the inevitable will I find the right one? scenario.
However, matching the right tenant with your property isn’t too hard if you establish your target market, work on good first impressions, implement a tenant search strategy and thoroughly screen prospective candidates.
Where to start
Determine who your target rental audience is. Do you have a three bedroom suburban home close to schools, or do you have an inner city apartment?
Each type of property requires different maintenance and will attract a specific type of tenant.
If you’re looking to lease out your inner city apartment, think about the age and type of resident in that group and what type of tenant would fit that mix.
As much as you’re relying on first impressions, your role as a landlord is to view your property as a potential tenant would – is the property in good condition, does it look ‘loved’, and most importantly would you want to live in it?
Apply the Like-Attracts-Like theory; a run down, uncared for property will attract the same type of attention of care from tenants. A well-maintained, loved property will attract tenants who will pour the same level of love and care into the property as if it were their own.
Show you care. Present the property during inspection like you would if you were putting it up for auction. If you knew putting in some new curtains and a fresh coat of paint would ensure an $800,000 sale, you wouldn’t hesitate.
If you were putting a house up for sale, you’d want it to be in the best possible condition to attract the highest price. Finding a good tenant involves a similar approach.
How to find them
If you think you need some assistance when finding the right tenant, enlist the help of a good property manager.
Their services can be invaluable when making choices about the right amount of rent to charge and how to properly screen tenants:
They are well placed to advise on an appropriate level on rent and can prove invaluable during the tenant screening process.
If navigating the tenant search off your own back, you may need to do some additional groundwork. Your marketing strategy will determine where and how you will lure in good tenants:
- Create a web listing for your property
- Spend some time writing attractive copy. Be creative and highlight the features of your property
- Use quality photography to capture the quality features of inside and outside of the property. Playing with the lighting in a room can make an immense difference when depicting the colour temperature and atmosphere of the room
- Forward your property listing information to your friends and family as a way of connecting to a new tenant via trusted and already established networks
Do your research
It’s surprising how many landlords only do a basic reference check when screening applicants.
Given that normal tenant applications request at least three references across past employers, property managers, and personal referees it is vital to devote time to screening these contacts.
Asking a past employer about the prospective tenant’s reliability can be an easy way to determine if they are likely to pay rent on time.
Do a minimum of three reference checks and find out how long tenants have been at previous properties. If they are good tenants they usually stay at one property for at least a year and always come with a property manager reference.
Selecting a good tenant involves a combination of attracting good applicants and then taking the time to properly screen them.
After you’ve found your tenant
No matter how much of a good gut feeling you have about your tenant, you can’t predict the potential ‘what ifs’ involving your rental property.
Seemingly small accidents, such as spillages on the new carpet right through to more significant damage such as a kitchen fire can happen spontaneously and catch the tenant and landlord off guard.
Property damage or absconding tenants can be covered by landlord insurance.
For less than one week’s rent a year a year landlord insurance gives peace of mind to the property owner knowing that most potential scenarios involving their apartment or house are covered.
While a thorough tenant screening process is important, insurance can help cover losses.