May 15, 2018
Finding, Screening and Managing Tenants
Being a landlord is fraught with risk. If a “professional tenant” slips by, they can cause major damage to your property, and leave a you with a major bill for clean-up and repairs. Many times, these bad apples can scare off other regularly paying good tenants, and if the eviction process drags on, you can potentially lose good business. And, to rub salt into the wound, your reputation as a quality landlord can vanish almost instantly.
So, what’s a proven methodology for finding, screening and managing tenants? Follow this 1-2-3 process…
1. Finding Tenants
The way you market and attract tenants can always be fine-tuned to ensure the maximum amount of high quality applicants. It sounds obvious, but before placing an ad anywhere, take a look at your unit: does it need a fresh coat of paint? Make sure everything is in working order. Next, look at the comps in the neighborhood, and determine fair market price for your unit. Too many times rental units will not attract renters if it is not in the ballpark with other one- two- or three-bedroom apartments in the community.
Know who you are selling to; a three-bedroom that usually appeals to families is marketed in a completely different way than a one-bedroom that is geared to singles or young couples. Then ensure your ads have lots of appealing photos.
When writing the ad, make it clear that the application process is thorough and be sure to mention in your ad that there will be a credit check for all applicants. Disreputable prospects are more likely move on to a property management firm that won’t conduct a credit or background check.
Direct all leads to your online application. It fulfils two purposes: 1.) It saves you time, and 2.) it collects all the required data you need, including information about co-applicants, guarantors and employment history. (With Property Vista, it’s easy to create a user-friendly application, complete with options to attach legal documents and submit digital signatures.)
2. Screening Tenants
The safest and surest way for property managers and landlords to avoid professional tenants and other bad apples starts at the very beginning of the landlord-tenant relationship. Landlords who screen their tenants properly significantly cut the risk of future revenue loss. Professional tenants often provide false employment information, so always follow up with references and past employers. Never, ever skip this step.
The Property Vista screening system uses a state-of-the-art algorithm to analyze more than 30 points of interest, such as credit score and debt, income and required rent. You’ll eliminate applications that do not meet your approval without having to lift a finger.
If everything comes back good and solid, take the time to go over the lease with your prospect, and outline their responsibilities and obligations as well as your own. With everyone on the same page, your relationship is ready to begin.
3. Managing Tenants
The lease has been signed, and now you move onto managing your new tenant. The main task is collecting rent. Get them set up with online payments. Don’t accept checks. If there’s not enough money in the account, or if it is fraudulent it will always end up causing delays and costing you money. If online payment isn’t an option, at the very least use rent reminders. Automate them in for 7-day before, day-of and 3-day late cadence, with varying levels of escalation. If your tenant has lost their job, or is in financial difficulty, you might also consider downsizing them to a more affordable unit. Open and respectful communication is key.
To improve renewals, throughout the term of the lease, do spot checks to see how everything is going for your new tenant. You may want to send a survey at the three-or-four-month mark to see how satisfied the new tenant is with the premises and the service they are receiving. This will give you time to address any issues before renewal time. Of course, ensure that all repairs are done in a timely manner.
Lastly, if your renter has earned a reputation as being disreputable, either by disturbing other tenants or through not paying the rent, you may want to start the eviction process immediately. In all states evictions are time-consuming and multi-step processes. Brush up on your local, state or federal laws and ensure that all legal documents are in place. Documentation is critical.
Learn More About Property Vista
At Property Vista, we offer a range of software solutions covering all types of properties. All our solutions are easy to use, mobile-friendly and scalable. Learn more about our suite of property management software!