A reliable tenant in your rental property gives you predictability and profit, while placing the wrong tenant can take a heavy toll on your income, your peace of mind, and even the property itself. The good news is, there are clear, proven steps you can take to avoid the common regrets of rental owners and better protect yourself, and your property. Read the following tips from SAC-METRO, a top Sacramento Property Management Company.
Here are the top 10 things you must do before you ever place a tenant in your rental home:
- Set the rent at a competitive price to rent quickly while getting the best possible return. The well-qualified tenant you’re looking for with good credit, positive references, and a reliable income has a lot of choices when renting a home, and they won’t pay more than they have to. A competitive rent rate will actually earn you more in the long run by avoiding vacancy days.
- Get the property “Rent-Ready.” Put simply, quality tenants look for quality properties. So take care of all needed maintenance, have the home professionally cleaned and deodorized, and make sure the landscaping and exterior offer strong curb appeal. Ask for our rent-ready checklist to make sure your property attracts as many reliable applicants as possible.
- Market the property aggressively. Once the property looks its best, an expert Sacramento property management company would take quality pictures and video and advertise on all the major online rental listing sites like Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Rentals.com, and Rent.com. If there are any local sites targeting specific markets, such as Auburn property management, list on those as well. Ensure your ad includes the best features, such as a large yard, off-street parking, updated rooms, new appliances, quality schools, and the proximity to transit and shopping. And don’t forget an attractive, professional sign on the property itself.
- Make selection criteria clear. When you include your application criteria in the marketing or showing process, it can make the process more efficient. State the credit and income standards you expect, and you’ll eliminate a lot of unqualified tenants right away. This will not only save you time, it can protect you in fair housing matters.
- Be responsive to showing requests. Answer tenant inquiry calls or texts immediately and schedule showings promptly to keep interest high. You may elect to meet face to face with your prospective renters and do a little in-person pre-screening, or you can move the process along faster using technology and apps that allow the tenant to securely view the property on their own. This can be a time-consuming process, but is critical to avoid unnecessary vacancy days and avoid losing the great tenants you’re looking for. This is where a professional leasing agent especially saves you time and prevents unnecessary vacancy days.
- Use a thorough, written application and require documentation. Collect the pertinent information for all potential tenants over 18 who wish to lease the home, along with permission to conduct background and credit checks. Today’s tenants will be looking for an online application, which is also handy so applicants can easily upload copies of their ID and income verification. If you’re unable to do this, many professional property managers will provide this service for you as part of their leasing services.
- Check the applicant’s rental history. This is the best indicator of how someone will perform in your property. Talk to former and current landlords (and make sure you’re talking to actual landlords, not family members and friends). Ask about whether the prospective tenant paid rent on time, took care of the property, gave proper notice, or violated the lease terms. Finally, ask whether they would rent to this tenant again.
- Check the applicant’s financial history. This includes employment, income and credit checks. You want to see a stable employment history and an income that’s at least three times the rent. You don’t need a tenant with perfect credit, but, you do need a tenant without prior evictions or any landlord debt. Look for unpaid or overdue utility payments and avoid any tenants who are currently in bankruptcy or looking like they might be about to declare bankruptcy. Measure their debt against their income.
- Check the applicant’s criminal background. The best tenants usually aren’t felons. Minor traffic incidents from 20 years ago are no big deal, but of course you don’t want anyone with a history of violent crimes, drugs, or predatory behavior. Note that you need to be very careful with this step to ensure that you are not violating fair housing laws. Which brings us to the final step:
- Stay in compliance! No one wants to discriminate. However, rental owners often commit serious fair housing violations without realizing it. The language you use in your advertising can be unfair, for example, stating that a property is perfect for families or in a neighborhood that’s popular with one particular culture can get you into trouble. This is a tricky area where a professional Sacramento property management company can protect you from potentially hefty fines and expensive lawsuits.
The best tenant is easy to identify, but often hard to find. If you want your property leased to the most qualified tenant as quickly as possible, it’s time to find out for yourself why more rental owners like you choose SAC-METRO. Simply call us today for a no-obligation discussion.