5 Expert Tips to Attract Cream-of-the-Crop Tenants

by Kevin Perk

Tenants. That one word can send chills down a landlord’s spine. To a landlord, tenants are both their bread and butter and their biggest problem. We have all heard the horror stories of bad tenants who trash properties, steal our money, and otherwise want to make us sell everything we own. Top that off with the ever increasing number of tenant-friendly laws being enacted by jurisdictions around the country, and you might wonder why anyone would want to be a landlord.

One has to remember, however, that not all tenants are bad. There are some great ones out there, and the key is attracting these good tenants to you and your properties. Attracting these tenants is not always as simple as placing a “For Rent” sign in the front yard. It takes a bit of thought and effort. But if you can attract the best tenants you will significantly reduce the amount of problems and the levels of stress you face.

So how do you attract great tenants? Here are some ideas.

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5 Expert Tips to Attract Cream-of-the-Crop Tenants

1. Know your rental market.

All markets in real estate are extremely local. Various neighborhoods and communities will attract differing segments of the tenant base and will offer differing amenities. In some neighborhoods the proximity of a good school may be a major attraction. In others it may be proximity to work or to entertainment facilities. You as the landlord need to understand what attracts good tenants to your location and market towards that. If the school is great, say so. If the proximity to entertainment is great, say so.

Your market will also determine the type of amenities offered, as not all locations will offer the same ones. For example, some locations can attract good tenants without supplying appliances, while others cannot. You may not like supplying appliances, but if it is done in your local market and you do not, the best tenants are going to go elsewhere.

2. Know how your tenants search for rentals.

Understanding how the best tenants, along with the bad ones, will find you is another key. You need to focus your advertising towards the most productive methods to find the best tenants. Gone are the days of just being able to put a sign in the yard and hoping for the best. Today a landlord has many ways to advertise their properties.

Yes, you can still use signs in the yard, but these will only attract those who happen to be driving by your property or specifically looking in your neighborhood. While signs may be good if you are trying to attract tenants because you are next to a good school, they will not work if your goal is to attract professionals moving in from out of town. Know and understand who you are trying to communicate with and how they prefer to communicate.

3. Act professional.

Always remember that you are running a business, and professionalism goes a long way. Remember that prospective tenants are looking for a place to call home, and they are going to have their guard up when they see your ads or contact you. Thus, you need to be professional at all of the points of tenant contact, including everything from having professional looking signs and a website, to a professional looking personal appearance and manner. Nothing is going to spook the good tenants more than a bad vibe they get from an unprofessional looking or unorganized and confused sounding landlord. Think about it from their point of view. They are sizing you up just as much as you are them.

4. Have standards/rental criteria.

Nearly every prospective tenant is going to have concerns about who is living next door. It is only natural to be worried who will be on the other side of that wall. Unfortunately for them, you really should not tell them much about who lives there. It can get you into trouble, and it is not very professional to share info about tenants. You can, however, explain your rental criteria and state that everyone you rent to has to meet those criteria. So, for example, you can state that all tenants have to pass a criminal background check and make enough money to afford the property. Tell them the same standards that you are going to apply to them applied to everyone. That will often calm most nerves.

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5. Keep your property tidy and maintained.

I hate to have to say this, but it needs to be said. If you let your properties become run down, you will end up in a downward spiral of lower and lower quality tenants who will cause you more and more problems. This does not mean that you have to provide granite countertops or plant rose gardens, but your properties should look well kept. That means cut grass, a trash-free yard, a lack of peeling paint, and a general tidy and cared about appearance. Yes, this all costs money, but it is going to be less money than the amount you have to spend due to a bad tenant.

Tenants can make or break a landlord. Attract the good ones by following the tips outlined above. Let the bad ones move on to your less informed competition.

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