The best way to find tenants? Maybe we should talk about the worst way to find tenants. This step-by-step guide should cover the basics.
They showed up in herds after I posted the Craigslist ad for our first rental, and I wasn't prepared at all. And while it worked out ok, in hindsight it could have been a real disaster.
And when I bought the house next door, I repeated the same mistakes. It did turn out to be a disaster, and we ended up in the Magistrate's court within six months.
1.) Show the property by appointment only, and try for group showings for best results. It saves you trips to the property, and you can see how each one reacts to one another, showing their true personality sometimes.
2.) Never show the property alone. Ask a spouse or friend to be present.
3.) Have ample rental applications on hand, and a way to scan then email or text the completed applications back to the applicants. You can skip this if you are using an online service.
4.) Get personal, business and previous rental references -- and call them all! Don't skimp here, or it may come back to haunt you.
5.) Before you pick the best tenant from your applications, do a quick check on Facebook to see what they are like when they are not trying to impress you. If I had taken this simple step, I would have saved a lot of grief with the second go-round.
Have good pictures on hand before you start. Think like a tenant and take pics of what you'd expect to see, inside and out.
For online advertising, I like to use Craigslist, because it's free and you'll get lots of eyes on your listing. But there's a downside to using Craigslist, because you'll get calls from lots of undesirables, too. And time wasters, too.
Another free service (free to landlords, anyway) is TurboTenant. Once you place your rental with them, you can let TurboTenant spin it out to all the online resources like Zillow and others with the push of a button.
There are mixed feelings about putting a for rent sign on a property. But then if there is a sign, someone driving by knows about it and may call. Or share the info with someone else.
Another line of thought is that the sign also advertises the home is vacant, and could lead to break-ins and theft.
My friend Jay places signs on the nearest corners when he has a vacancy, without an address, just a street name and your phone number. It's a bit of a compromise, one that works well for his neighborhood.
Once I had a few more rentals, I began using TurboTenant to screen my prospects. I must say they exceeded my expectations. Their motto is, Screen your tenant in 3 easy steps. I was a bit skeptical, thinking that you get what you pay for -- and TurboTenant is free for all landlords.
How they get paid is from the tenant applicants. And when you think about it, if a tenant is willing to pay a rental application up front, they probably don't hav much to hide. The prospects that refuse are not going to be your best tenants anyway, so you are on a better starting place.
Good tenants are like gold. I have tenants that have been with me for years and years. Whenever I happen to have a vacancy, one of the best way to find tenants like these is to ask them if they know of anyone wanting to rent.
When you treat your tenants with kindness, always responding quickly to their calls and texts, your relationship becomes one of respect. That goes both ways.
These days, since I have so many rental properties, I have a professional property manager that I hand picked who takes care of my tenants as if they were his own. I guess, in some ways they are.