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Finding the Ideal Renter

When it comes to successful property management, finding the ideal renters is not only essential, it’s a common concern among leasing agents. In fact, a survey of property managers and landlords found that 60 percent described finding the right renters as their biggest challenge.

Of course, you’re looking for someone who pays their rent on time each month, maintains the property meticulously, and plans on staying for a long time. But how can leasing agents identify — and attract — good tenants? The keys lie in proper marketing and screening practices; these tips can help.

Identify Your Ideal Resident

Before you jump into the advertising process, consider what truly makes a renter ideal. Some general characteristics include:

  • Employed with a stable source of income
  • Good credit rating
  • No history of evictions
  • Pays rent on time each month
  • Communicates maintenance and repair needs promptly
  • Takes pride in the property’s appearance
  • Respectful of neighbors and other tenants
  • Agrees to rules, regulations and responsibilities
  • Non-smoker

The more characteristics you add to your list, the more great tenants you’re likely to find.

Keep in mind that these characteristics must never violate the Federal Fair Housing Act — which prohibits discrimination based on factors such as religion, race, disability, familial status or color — as well as staying within any state or local anti-discrimination laws.

Marketing to Your Ideal Resident

Now that you’ve created your list, use these characteristics to help you target your marketing efforts and reach the right audience. Local papers and online sites are always a good place to start, but for a truly targeted effort, you’ll have to get creative in your ad language.

Consider characteristics of former ideal tenants. For example, did they work in a certain part of the city? Did they have young children? Did they appreciate living in a quiet, safe neighborhood? To attract these renters, highlight that fact the property is in a cul-de-sac, far from the street noise, within walking distance of great schools and neighborhood parks. Note that public transportation is easy to access, as are commuter routes.

You may also want to do a bit of networking; if you already have great tenants, ask them if they have any friends that are seeking a rental. Forbes even suggests placing some marketing materials in complexes known for having high quality tenants.

Screening Process

Once the queries start coming in, it’s time to do your due diligence. Screening is absolutely essential in order to protect your investment; start with a checklist of questions to ask early in a conversation, such as employment, past evictions and smoking. If a tenant has nothing to hide, they’ll answer these questions without hesitation.

Have every potential resident completely fill out an application form, run a credit check, require proof of employment — such as pay stubs and a phone number for their current employer — and check those references. In fact, it’s good practice to call the landlord that came before their current landlord, who may give a poor renter a good reference just to get them out of their property! Look for red flags such as poor credit history, lots of job switches, and many moves in short periods of time.

While the screening process may seem like a lot of work, consider it as simply an investment into your property. After all, a good renter will take pride in their home, keeping it clean and well-maintained — and making your job a lot easier. There are also property management software solutions available that include screening as part of their service. For example, AppFolio Property Managers, offers quick one-click screening that delivers results in seconds making the process streamlined and manageable.

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