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It’s no secret that the wrong renter can make for a big headache for property owners and managers. We have a few secrets to share to help you find and keep better tenants.

Offer Great Propety

Make your rental the one folks in your community want to live in. Spend time and money to paint what needs painted and repair what needs repaired. Remember your initial walk-through before you purchased? Walk thought it again, only this time, eyeball it with the intention of living in it. Look at floors and woodwork, walls, and vents. Check out windows and closets, switch plates, and door handles. Take a close look at appliances. Does everything work properly? Is it all clean? Would you let your kid crawl on the carpet?

Intall fire extinguishers and alarms as well as carbon monoxide alarms and make sure that all are in working order. Make sure porch railings are tight and there are no loose boards on the porch or steps. Clean up concrete and stray bricks or boards.

Assume tenants are as picky as you, because guess what? They are!

Sell Yourself

Make it a practice to respond to any tenant inquiry within 24 hours. If you’re going to be unavailable for any length of time, let them know and give them the contact info of someone to call in case of an urgent or emergency maintenance concern. If you own several properties, or a multi-family property, think about sending out a quarterly newsletter to your tenants. You can advise them of maintenance concerns or other special activities. Your newsletter doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can hire out the writing if you’re not comfortable with it.

When you have property available, respond promptly to any inquiries about leasing it. Show up on time for property showings. Dress professionally. Be courteous, professional, and helpful. Once you have tenants in place,  treat them with respect and act professionally. This includes any contractors that you hire out for maintenance. Anyone who is working for you on your property represents you. Hire the best for your tenants.

Screen Every Interested Tenant

The best way to ensure the best tenants is to thoroughly screen them before signing a lease. Many landlords skip this important step and pay dearly for it after entering into a lease. Require all potential tenants to complete a rental application that includes at least three years of rental and employment history. You may want to ask for more than one landlord referral so you avoid current landlords who want to get rid of bad tenants and would therefore not be honest in their reference.

Also ask the tenant to complete a credit and criminal background check. It’s up to you how to interpret the results of the background check, but you will get a fair idea of how to proceed based on the information you receive.

Use A Strong Lease Agreement

Lease agreements set up the terms of your agreement with a tenant in clear language. The best tenants are familiar with lease agreements and should be happy to sign one. Strong Lease Agreements spell out facts such as:

  • Who will live on the property.
  • When the rent is due and what the penalties are if payment is late or declined
  • The basis for eviction
  • Who’s in charge of pest control and other service calls to the property
  • How much the deposit is and the conditions that determine how and when it is returned to the tenant

Don’t be afraid to be spell out your expectations. It’s best to have clear and easy-to-understand language that identifies the terms of your lease agreement.

The Bottom Line

Better tenants are out there. If you follow these tips, you’ll have all the information you need to find them. Now, go out and get them!