Renter selection is by far and away the most important factor in successful property management. Locating and then screening renters is a labour intensive process that requires persistence, intuition, common sense, and an ability to size people up. You have to be aware of shifting rental market conditions and act swiftly when you find that perfect person for your property. Renter selection is no doubt an art. If you haven’t yet mastered this art, here are some general principles that can help you find your next great tenant:
Advertise your rental well
Rental advertisements advertise both the property and the host, which is why it is surprising to see the number of ads that have have typos, unflattering images, and poor descriptions. The message that this sends to prospective renter is that landlord does not care – not a great message to send to anyone looking at your property as their next home. So when you are crafting your listing, take great pictures of your spare room in a clean and tidy state and include concise and accurate descriptions that answer the four basic questions: what the property is, where it is located, how much is rent, and when it is available.
Pricing your room appropriately and strategically
Pricing depends on rental market conditions. In general, price your room at or slightly below market rates. It’s unwise to list a price well above other comparables, as it turns away prospective renters and your listing can quickly become stale. Even if you secure a renter at a high rate, that renter has incentive to leave and will likely bother you with even the slightest problems. We are also a big proponent of using pricing as a tool to secure the best possible renter. One way to do this is to offer a slight reduction in rent to a renter with great credentials. This reduction can be offered under conditions that lessen your responsibilities. For example, you can ask that the renter do routine maintenance or lawn mowing. It’s a win-win for everybody and the landlord/tenant relationship starts off collaboratively.
Does the property make sense for the renter?
Use common sense when screening your renter. Does the location make sense for the renter? You should inquire about the renter’s place of work and, if there are children, the location of schools. What are the commuting times for your renter? How many cars are used and how many designated parking spots are needed? Also, be sure to get a sense of how rent will be paid. Who is the income earner? Is the income based on a steady salary or irregular commissions? Can the renters reasonably afford your rental? If anything seems suspicious or implausible, move on.
Listen and follow up with the renter references
If the renter complains about past host or landlords, it is likely that the renter has a poor attitude about host or landlords and has been involved in past tenancy disputes. These types of renters generally find anything to complain about and are likely to cause you grief down the road. When following up with renter references, ask specific and quantifiable questions.
Some good questions for past landlords:
- How long was the previous tenancy?
- How much was the monthly rent?
- Did the renter pay rent on time?
- Did the renter maintain the property well? Was there any damage or maintenance issues?
- Were there complaints from other neighbours or renters?
- Why did the renter leave?
- Would you rent to the renter again?
Some good questions for past employers:
- What was the renter’s monthly salary?
- What are the terms of employment? Is there a probation period?
- Does the renter come to work on time?
- How do you like working with the renter?
- Has the renter ever been reprimanded at work?
Additional good questions for family and friends:
- How do you know the renter? How long?
- Does the renter smoke?
- Does the renter have pets?
- What is the renter’s marital status?
- How does the renter spend his/her spare time?
You should set up an open house and advertise to all prospective renters. At the open house, have application forms ready for renters to fill out. This may be a better than setting up individual appointments, as renters often fail to show up and it can be a huge waste of time.
Finding great renters sometimes just boils down to luck, but there are plenty of things that can be done to tilt that luck in your favour. If you want to make it even easier, check out Happipad‘s new rental platform, the first to have fully authenticated hosts and renters.